nonfiction nuggets…stories with a little smackerel

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters, Tales retold by Jane Yolen, Recipes by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Illustrations by Philippe Beha

When my oldest children were 5 and 3, we had a busy one-year-old on our hands who was sweet as sugar, darling as a rosebud… and busy as a bee, which made storytime a bit of a challenge.  So, we invented Stories and a Little Something.  This was drawn from the pages of Winnie-the-Pooh, who always liked “a little something” at eleven o’clock in the mornings!  Don’t we all.  Our “Little Something” didn’t come until afternoon, during baby’s naptime, and only once a week.  We would make tea and find some nice little scrumply bits  in the cupboards, and sit down to a proper, civilized Little Something and a chapter from Pooh Bear — without interruption!  A lot of spilt tea and general stickiness ensued, as will happen when 3-year-old boys take tea.  But, we turned a blind eye, and they were happy times.

Fairy Tale Feasts is a book that helps us come up with clever ideas to extend a story into a splendid cooking-and-eating-and-storytelling extravaganza!  Each entry has a short fairy tale or fable, retold by storytelling-wonder Jane Yolen and illustrated with boldly drawn, boldly colored, lighthearted pictures AND paired with a recipe for something scrumptious that ties in with the story!  Genius!  For instance, the story of Cinderella is accompanied by a recipe for spicy-sweet pumpkin tartlets.  Mmmmm.  The Runaway Pancake gets an eat-’em-up-quick pancake recipe with several yummy variation, including chocolate chips 🙂  There is even a recipe for Stone Soup!  What sheer delight to scrub that rock and plop it in the pot for starters!

There are 20 tales with accompanying recipes grouped in categories of breakfasts, lunches, soups, dinners and desserts.  Some of the fables I had not heard of before, and some are very familiar tales.  As if that weren’t enough, there are columns running along the margins that tell a bit of the history of the story itself — when it was written first or some of the variations around the world — and a few fascinating facts about the food itself.  For instance, the columns along Snow White’s Baked Apples list six interesting facts about apples, from the science of apple growing, to the nutrition content of apples, to the different sizes of apples. 

Sparkle up your children’s storytimes once in a while.  Have a storytime party with friends.  Come up with a fabulous feast for the play group, co-op, kindergarten, or lengthy babysitting stint.  Get your own creative juices flowing and come up with more story-and-snacks ideas on your own.  Whatever you do, stories and a little smackerel are sure to make great memories.