1. Take a deep breath, stop snapping at the child and offer them the chance to cook a magical feast alongside you.
2. Set up a surface (near your kitchen work surface) with one copy of Doodle Cook by Herve Tullet and a pot of your child’s favourite drawing tools.
3. Start cooking together! You follow whatever recipe you’re doing, your child follows her own. You chat, you laugh, delicious plates of food get created and everyone is MUCH happier than before!
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking with my kids, but sometimes it’s easier to have them alongside in the kitchen without actually chopping, mixing, and spreading mess everywhere. So when I saw that the creator of one of my favourite picture books of 2011, Press Here (my review is here), had created an activity book all about doodling, creativity and food I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Like so many of Tullet’s books, the idea here is very simple. Tullet presents a series of recipes, calling on the “chef” to add a sprinkling of squiggles, a pinch of blobs, a dash of zigzags and so on to create a whole feast of illustrated dishes. There’s Triangle Cake, Sun-Ray Tart, Thousand-layer Cake, Dot Stew and Nameless Soup, to give you just a flavour of what’s on offer.
The book is sturdily produced and printed on really heavy paper, making it robust and ideal for wild doodling and strong enough to hold up to watery painting too. My only minor gripe would be that I would like to see it published with a ring binding so that it is easy for kids to make the pages lie completely flat. It’s hard for small hands to bend the spine thoroughly enough to make sure pages stay open.
I’m a huge fan of activity books both as life savers for busy parents but also as sneaky sources of reading when kids are reluctant to pick up a book (I wrote more about this last summer over at Wahm-Bam). The best activity books will inspire kids to continue being creative when they’ve filled up the book: with Doodle Cook we had fun coming up with our own doodle recipes, even having a sort of recipe draw-off around the lunch table one day.
All in all, Doodle Cook is perfect to give the kids whilst you’re preparing supper or if you wish to encourage your young artist or chef to think outside the box (or should that be ‘off the plate’?).
Whilst we both cooked we listened to:
Doodle Cook also made me think of these nice things:
Have you and your kids used any activity books recently? What do you look for in a great activity book?
And, please, if you’re a (fairly) regular reader of the blog and haven’t left a comment on my New Year’s Post, please head on over there and do so!
Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review, however, remains my own and honest opinion.