A recipe for a story

posted in: Ella Burfoot | 3

recipeforstoryI would never normally encourage underhand or devious behaviour, but today I’m most wholeheartedly advocating cooking the books!

Recipe For a Story by Ella Burfoot is a joyous and playful guide on how to have great fun creating a story good enough to eat. A little girl tells us, in lilting rhyme, how she weighs out her words, mixes in characters, adds flavour with feelings, colours and sounds, sprinkles in some punctuation and glazes her baking with happiness, all to ensure her story is a delicious read.

And Ella Burfoot’s book is indeed a very appetising offering! Both text and illustration are clever and comical, creating an enormously enjoyable story to share, but one which also offers scope for learning about aspects of bookmaking and storytelling; this is a book which could work as well in the classroom as at home on the sofa.

Illustrations full of jokes about both books and food offer lots to ensure repeat reading will be requested, with new details being discovered each time. The images also ooze happiness (there are so many smiles in this book, including a gorgeous one created – presumably – by Burfoot’s own child at the front of the book) and a charming child-like innocence. Burfoot’s use of pencil, crayon and collage in the illustration, at times reminding me of Louise Yates‘s work, will inspire kids not only to try writing their own stories, but also to illustrate them.



Recipe For a Story by Ella Burfoot is delicately and sweetly flavoured feel-good treat perfect for feeding the writing bug! Bon appetit!


Now I’ve got a bit of a thing for edible books so I knew I had try my hand at making book slices inspired by Burfoot’s pie illustration above. After all, a slice of pie or cake has just the right shape to represent an open book. One Victoria sponge and inordinate amounts of icing later I had a teatime treat ready for my girls:



Like Recipe For a Story, these books made from cake and icing were devoured with delight.

M and J then wanted to set up their own “story kitchen” with jars full of special ingredients. Old jars, labels and a few cut-up newspapers later, we had our ingredients all ready to be mixed up in bowls and turned into stories of our own.


The girls cut out words they liked from a variety of newspapers and magazines:


Jam jar labels were filled in with the names of various ingredients:


The girls created jars for “Quality Adverbs”, “Juicy Adjectives”, “Nonsense words”, “Crazy words”, “Hyphens”, “Book words” and my personal favourite, “Kim’s tiny words from concentrate”.


We used shop-bought labels but if you’ve a good printer you could print your own jam jar labels at home – here’s a Pinterest board full of ideas.

Whilst eating cake and filling our story kitchen cupboards with good ingredients we listened to:

  • Sunshine Cake by Mike & Carleen Mccornack – this is a perfect match for the book reviewed today.
  • Bookmobile Submarine by John Hadfield (a surreal but fun song and video)
  • Doodle Book by Ocean Colour Scene

  • Other activities which could be paired nicely with reading Recipe For a Story include:

  • Helping your kids create their own books. This video tutorial shows you how to fold a piece of paper to create a mini book waiting to be filled with stories and illustration.
  • Encouraging a sense of real ownership of the books your kids already have at home, by letting them put customised book plates inside them. My Home Library is a fabulous source of bookplates designed by some of the world’s best illustrators free for you to print off and stick in your books. Many bookplates can be coloured in too.
  • Investigating the options for printing the stories your children create. Here’s my round-up post exploring many of the different publishing options available to kids and families who want to create their own books.

  • What’s your favourite recipe for a good story?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Recipe For a Story by the publisher.

    3 Responses

      • Zoe

        Yes, catherine, definitely got lots of potential for use in literacy lessons, but it is also so fun that it will work brilliantly as a great read at home – nothing “school-y” about it.
        Zoe recently posted..A recipe for a story

    1. Kelly

      I love books about books so this seems a perfect book to add to the ‘to get’ list! I also love the ideas you came up with, especially the words in jars. Great idea and one I am stealing for the classroom!
      Kelly recently posted..28 Days of Writing

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