________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 14. . . .December 3, 2010.


Who Wants Pizza? The Kids’ Guide to the History, Science & Culture of Food.

Jan Thornhill.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2010.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-97-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-96-0 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Food-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Claire Perrin.





There hasn’t always been pizza...

we used to eat everything RAW.
We ate raw fruit, and meat, and fish, and even bugs.

There was no flour for dough, no tomatoes for sauce, and worst of all, there was no cheese!

So how did we get from.... raw meat... to cooked? From wild grasses... to bread? From dried fish ... to frozen fish sticks?

It is as hard to resist reading this book as it is to turn down a hot piece of pizza. From cover to cover, eye-catching photos and the colourful layout play an important part in presenting a multitude of facts in an interesting way.

     In spite of the title and the cover photo, this book deals with much more than pizza. The subtitle is more representative of the contents of the book: the history, science and culture of all food. On the heels of Frieda Wishinsky’s Everything But the Kitchen Sink (2008), Who Wants Pizza? deals with a similar theme but with a more serious purpose. Thornhill presents a wide variety of topics from the evolution of foods to nutrition to farming. Each double page is a new topic, and the related facts are laid out in boxes with catchy headings and photos. Although some of the concepts are quite complex (childhood obesity, genetic modification and sustainable agriculture), the titles and headings are easy to understand, and the information is presented in terms that young people can handle. In some cases, Thornhill incorporates humour, but she generally relies on the “disgusting” factor to entertain readers. For example, we read that the red dye commonly found in processed foods is made from crushed insect shells.

     Jan Thornhill has written several award-winning books in this genre of late, including I Found a Dead Bird (2006) and This is my Planet (2008). These books present a healthy and environmental perspective that is important to share with young people.

     Who Wants Pizza? is an irresistible read that will leave fact-hungry readers with plenty of food for thought.

Highly Recommended.

Claire Perrin is a full-time teacher-librarian with the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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