Thursday, May 09, 2013

What's On Your Bookshelf?

On Thursdays, we peek at other people’s books. If you would like to share your bookshelf with us, send your post, photo or a short a/v clip to:

Today, we look at Linda’s bookshelf.

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This bookshelf lives in our kitchen in Canberra. It’s where we keep our cookbooks.

"Hang on," I hear you say, "Isn't this blog supposed to be about children's books? What's this cookbook post doing here?"

Well, lots of children's books have really interesting takes on food and eating or not eating or getting eaten or avoiding getting eaten and it isn't that much of a stretch to go from food to cooking is it? Anyway, all books take you on journeys and even cookbooks can take you on adventures in unexpected ways. Here are some of the places this bookshelf takes me:

Morocco. The lanterns which sit on top of the bookshelf come from a souk in Marrakesh.

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China. The mobile on the side comes from Beijing.

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Each animal in the mobile represents a year in the Chinese zodiac, starting with the rat and ending, twelve years later, with the pig.

If you know the order of the animals you can tell how old people are. Most children turning 12 this year are snakes, unless they were born before 24 January in 2001 - in which case they are dragons! This is because the Chinese zodiac works on a lunar calendar.

You can learn more about it here.

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The bookcase itself comes from Hong Kong where it held children’s books.

See! Only three memories in and we're already back with children's books.  One of my favourite books (notice it's a bit dog-eared), which used to live in this bookcase, is:

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That book's about a journey too.  Max sailed his boat "through night and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year to where the wild things are."

But I haven’t yet told you about my books. They, too, tell stories and have histories.

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Jane Grigson was a well-known British food writer. These books were bought at Daunt Books, an original Edwardian bookshop in Marylebone High Street in London, where there is also a great children’s literature section ( see, more kids' books...) In fact, the reason we went to Daunt Books in the first place was to look at the children's books.

One of the most unusual books on the shelf is this one:

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It was my mother’s home economics text book when she was a student at St Agnes College in Assam, India in the 1950s.     Her name's on the flyleaf.  The book was published in 1945 by Oxford University Press and is an interesting insight into domestic life in mid-century India.

Is Home Economics still taught in schools today? I’m very glad that children today, in India and throughout the world, enjoy so many more choices than they did then. But I also have to say, my mum's a pretty good cook.

I hope you enjoyed travelling to Morocco, China, Hong Kong, London and India with me through my bookshelf.

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And here we are back in Canberra, where, like Max, our supper is still hot!

My 5 favourite children’s books with a food theme:
    Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
    Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
    The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
    The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
    Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

    Others you might know or like:
      The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
      Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
      In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
      The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
      The Gingerbread Man (fairy tale) – also see The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scienzka
      Possum Magic by Mem Fox
      The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

      Let us know your favourite books with a food theme – comment below.

      About the Author

      Linda De Silva is a blog moderator, parent and Essendon fan who still gets lost driving around Canberra where she and her family have lived for two years. She doesn't cook as well as her mum.

      At 13, Linda loved Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights so much she underlined all her favourite parts.  She still has that copy but it is no longer her favourite book.

      She is currently struggling a bit with The Dwarves by Markus Heitz but has been told that it is worth perservering.


      1. I have a few cookbooks combined with children's books that are great fun - The Wind in the Willow Cookbook, The Little House Cookbook...

        1. I'd be interested to know what those recipes are like, Imogen. Toad Soup?

          Are the recipes for cooking with children?

      2. What a great post, Linda. I love the way that you've used the bookcase iteself as the vehicle for the stories contained in it - and not just in the books! I'm never going to look at that bookcase in the same way again.

        1. Thanks, Tony. The other thing I realised when I started the post was that the bookcase needs a good dust. It still does because dusting isn't a journey so much as trial.

      3. What a great reminder that books can teleport you anywhere!

      4. Great to see an old school home economics text on the shelf - you should therefore be a better chef than your mum -is this true?

        1. How to spark a riot - suggest anyone is a better cook than my mum!

          No-one is a better cook than my mum. Her chappatis are legendary and she has cooked for an average of 10 people per night for over 50 years.

          I suspect this is my brother, Tony.

      5. Doreen De Silva17 May 2013 at 12:42

        Linda, seeing my old school text book on your book shelf brought back so many memories. Of all the books I had to study that was my favourite. I thought I could take it into my married life and run a home on it. I soon learnt otherwise. If I remember clearly there is a good recipe of how to make toffee brittle.

        1. Thanks, Mum.

          It is a very well traveled text book. So far, in its 68 years it has lived in Assam, Bahrain, Adelaide, Sydney, Hong Kong and now, Canberra.

          I must look up the toffee brittle recipe.