Smile & Succeed for Teens: A crash Course in Face-to-Face Communication Book & Bookmark Giveaway!

DSC_0001I’m giving away one copy of this AUTOGRAPHED book plus bookmark to one lucky winner.

Simply Like us on Facebook and leave a valid comment on this post. The winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, March 11 at 5:00 pm!


Cover image courtesy of Solid Press

Smile and Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World

•        Targeted Audience: Middle School & High School (Ages 10 and Up)
•        Genre: Nonfiction
•        Author: Kirt Manecke
•        Publisher: Solid Press
•        Publication Date: June 6, 2014
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 5.5″ x 8.5″
•        Printing: Black & White
•        Length: 144 Pages
•        Retail: $9.95
•        ISBN: 978-0985076214

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“One of the most valuable lessons you can learn from this book is PAY ATTENTION to people.

Make good eye contact.
Focus on words they are saying.
Ask questions to clarify when necessary.
Engage in conversation.
Let people finish talking before you respond.”

A Crash Course for Teens in People Skills in a High Tech World

imagesSmile and Succeed for Teens gives adolescents and teens the basic personal and professional skills they need to succeed today and tomorrow, in whatever it is they strive to do. Author Kirt Manecke decided to create this book after writing Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service for adults. In this world of texts, emails and Instagrams, kids need a course in face-to-face social skills now more than ever.

In the seven chapters of the book, learn essential people skills, get tips on getting and keeping a job, learn how to treat others with respect, discover the secrets to successful selling, keep customers happy and make your life extraordinary. Woven within the text of the chapters are useful lists and inspirational quotes too.

What This Book Teaches

Smile and Succeed for Teens can be considered as a How to Win Friends and Influence People guide for teenagers. The practical information set forth in the book is essential for success in life, and these are all lessons not taught in schools – but should be. Manacke’s writing is simple, straight forward and is super easy to read, though it is not preachy or condescending in any way. Cartoon style drawings add to the learning experience and keep the topic light. The book teaches teens that their demeanor, manners and work ethic are what provide them with opportunities to succeed. The strategies for selling their skills as well as selling products are invaluable here, and the book teaches them how to go the extra mile. These are tools that lay the foundation for a future that is bright, no matter what field your child delves into down the road.

Why You Should Buy This Book

Kids who implement the tips in Smile and Succeed for Teens will stand above all the rest. The book provides them with Social-skills-for-teenscommon sense tactics outlining a blueprint of success that will follow them into adulthood. Teens who practice these winning strategies will form positive, professional habits that will set them apart from many of their peers. It’s a competitive world, and those who want to have fulfilling careers, be respected for their work and foster long lasting relationships can use all the help they can get. The tips here can be utilized, not only for jobs and careers, but also for getting into college and securing scholarships. I commend Kirt Manecke for writing a book for teens like this, on a topic that is generally written for adults. If our schools don’t teach these skills, then it’s imperative we provide our kids with other means to learn them. Smile and Succeed for Teens motivates the reader while it teaches these life skills.

About the Author

© Carl R. Sams IIKirt Manecke is a an award-winning author and sales, marketing, fundraising, and business development specialist with over 30 years of experience surprising and delighting customers. Smile and Succeed for Teens is based on Kirt’s award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service, (winner of 8 awards) promoting and teaching the simple premise that good service is good business.  In addition to his work, Kirt is a strong proponent of buying local to create thriving downtowns and supports the 3/50 Project. He is also passionate about land conservation and also supports local farmer’s markets along with dog and cat animal rescue groups. (1% of the proceeds from Kirt’s books are donated to animal welfare.) He is also a volunteer judge at DECA conferences to help high school and college students become our next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. Kirt lives in Milford, Michigan.

Further Learning

  1. Download the Teacher’s Guide.
  2. Read articles that help teens succeed.
  3. Read FREE Tips for Teens.
  4. Watch the Book Trailer.

Educating Teens About Food, the Most Important Subject of All: Interview With Foodprints Author Paula Ayer

Paula photoAs an Associate Editor at Annick Press, Paula Ayer knows a good book when she reads one. And she sure knows how to write one too. She recently penned an outstanding title for teens called Foodprints, and it is one of the best written and most important nonfiction titles for kids I’ve ever read. Paula takes teens on a journey of discovering the history of our food, what we eat, how the bulk of it is grown on megafarms, how it is marketed, consumed, wasted and so much more. I was so impressed with Foodprints, its usefulness and the important messages it conveys, I wanted to learn more about what went into the making of this comprehensive book and ask Paula what mealtime is like in her home, since she and her young daughter are vegetarians and her husband is a meat eater.

“I didn’t know any other vegetarians, but on a shallow level, I thought it was a cool thing to be, and on a deeper level, I didn’t like the idea that animals had to suffer for my food.”

Growing up in a family that made sausages, can you tell us what inspired you to become a 1420664306-2vegetarian?

I became very interested in food as a teenager and started doing a lot of reading about diet and health, and about how animals are treated in the factory-farm system. This was pre-internet, so I was discovering things through books and magazines. John Robbins’s book Diet for a New America was a big influence. I didn’t know any other vegetarians, but on a shallow level, I thought it was a cool thing to be, and on a deeper level, I didn’t like the idea that animals had to suffer for my food. I don’t know if I made a conscious decision to stop eating meat altogether, but I started eating less and less, and by the time I was 15 I was completely vegetarian. My mom had no idea what to make for me so I started doing some cooking at home, and after a couple of years my parents and brother went vegetarian too! Everyone probably thought we were crazy. It wasn’t so mainstream at the time.

That’s fantastic that you started cooking your own healthy meals as a teen.

I should mention I wasn’t always a healthy vegetarian. For a while I was very concerned about eating only “correct” things, and in the way of many teenagers, I went totally overboard. It took a while to find the right balance.

From what I read it, your husband was raised in a vegetarian family, but now eats meat. So how do you cook at home to please everyone?

10857749_10152950909916151_1074058350431513331_nYes, it’s funny how our diets have followed contrary paths. He was born in India and his family’s background is Hindu and Jain, so he grew up vegetarian. He started eating meat in his teens, right around the age I stopped. There was probably an element of teenage rebellion in both decisions, or at least wanting to step outside of our cultural comfort zones! We cook vegetarian at home and he eats meat mostly when he’s out, and he does make an effort to find organic or free-range meat. Our daughter, who’s five, has so far chosen to be vegetarian, so he’s outnumbered.

© Image of Paula and her five-year-old daughter

What inspired you to write Foodprints for kids?

The preteen and teen years are when many people start to make their own decisions about food. It’s also a time when kids are bombarded with information; so much fast-food and snack-food marketing is targeted at kids and teens, and then they’re seeing stuff on the internet, and hearing scary things about obesity and what they should and shouldn’t eat, and so on. It’s overwhelming, even for adults, and so much of the information out there is misleading or has an agenda (like getting you to buy something). I wanted to help kids make some sense of it, and equip them with the skills to think about information critically, whether it’s a fast-food ad or GMOs or a new diet they hear about. I also wanted to write the kind of book that I would have found useful when I was a kid curious about these things.

The book is so comprehensive and informative. How did you decide what to put in the book?

I had a very clear idea right from the start about what information I wanted to include. Food is a huge topic, and there’s an almost unlimited amount of information you could use, but I was trying to hit on the basics, to give kids a grounding in the big issues around food production, how it’s sold, how it affects our bodies and the planet. I also wanted to include stories that were positive and empowering, and then there are things I threw in just because I thought they were interesting or funny!


© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Was it difficult for you to organize all that information into cohesive chapters that flow?

In addition to having a clear understanding of what information I wanted to cover from the start, I also had a vision of how I was going to structure it. I think I sat down to write a chapter outline and did it all in one go in a couple of hours. It probably helps that I’ve worked with kids’ books for years, as an editor and behind-the-scenes person, so I had a pretty good sense of how a book like this needed to be organized. Of course there was some fine-tuning along the way; I think we switched the order of two chapters at one point in editing, and there were things that were added or taken out to make it flow better.

Can you share with us how you went about conducting research for this book?

There were a few books I relied on for information about particular aspects, like the history of food, or factory farming, or food marketing. For specific examples, I found news articles and scholarly journals online. Wikipedia articles, if they’re well sourced, can be great for getting the basics on a subject, and then I’d follow the article links to primary sources. There’s a huge amount of information out there, so I felt my purpose was to bring it together and present it in a teen-friendly way.

You did an amazing job with that! The “Infobites” in the book, with their statistics, are truly staggering. While compiling information for these were you often surprised by the numbers yourself, and which ones did you find most astonishing?

DSC_0058Oh, absolutely. I had an idea, but some of the actual numbers were shocking. The amount of food wasted is one that’s unbelievable to me—about a third of all food worldwide goes to waste. I also found the numbers on food insecurity incredibly depressing: 1 in 4 kids in the US don’t have regular access to enough food, and in Canada it’s only slightly better. There’s no way those kids can have equal chances in life if they’re in school hungry, or worrying about not having enough to eat.


© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

It’s really shocking and sad that so many kids don’t have enough food, and yet we waste so much of it. Did you find it challenging to write about food science for a younger audience?

One nice thing about writing for younger readers is it forces you to really take apart things you think you know and say, “Okay, in the most basic terms, what is happening here? How does it work?” You can’t rely on the shorthand you might use with adults, where you just assume your readers understand something. I found I had a much clearer comprehension of things after trying to explain them to kids, whether it was biodiversity or the difference between simple and complex carbs.

“If we have kids graduating high school who don’t know how to cook something from scratch, and don’t know how to shop for groceries or prepare food, that’s a major failure.”


The statistics on the volume of sugar we eat on a daily basis are staggering. Do you think nutrition and healthy eating should be part of the curriculum in schools?

 Image of sugar in the Public Domain

I do think we need a big cultural shift when it comes to sugar. We evolved eating very tiny amounts of it, and up until very recently it was an expensive luxury. All the research is telling us it’s an addictive substance and it’s a big reason for kids and teens becoming pre-diabetic and developing other health problems. And yet we practically mainline it in sodas and Frappucinos, and we push so much of it on kids. It’s a hard thing to talk about without sounding like you’re head of the Temperance Union and you want to ban all fun. And I’m a hypocrite on the subject because I can barely go a day without chocolate! But we’d be better off treating sugar as more of an occasional, special thing, not an ingredient in every food we eat.

If we have kids graduating high school who don’t know how to cook something from scratch, and don’t know how to shop for groceries or prepare food, that’s a major failure. It’s one of the most important life skills you can have! I think there’s more of an awareness of that now, and some schools are teaching cooking and food literacy, starting garden projects, and such. But of course there needs to be much more.

“Don’t talk about how eating something will make you fat, or teach them to associate food with guilt and shame. Show them that eating well makes you feel good.”

What else can we do as parents to encourage healthy eating habits?81DonyBOD8L

As for what we can do as parents, one big thing is to set good examples by showing kids we enjoy healthy food, and that cooking and eating is a pleasure, not a chore. Involve them in shopping for and preparing food—even young kids can help wash veggies or get out ingredients from the fridge or whatever. Talk to them about where their food comes from. I think it’s also important to model healthy attitudes about food and body image. Don’t talk about how eating something will make you fat, or teach them to associate food with guilt and shame. Show them that eating well makes you feel good. And try to sit down and have meals together, even if you can only manage once or twice a week.

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Excellent advice! Do you think it’s possible for teens who grew up eating fast food, drinking soda and eating sweets to successfully change their eating habits? And what would it take to do that?

I think anyone can change his or her eating habits. And teens can change their entire fashion styles, musical tastes, and personas pretty much overnight, so they are probably the most adaptable to change!

Most people find if they get in the habit of eating healthier food, as long as it’s tasty and nutritious and they’re eating enough of it, then they enjoy eating that way and they don’t crave greasy or sugary things all the time. So it’s a matter of building those habits. Of course it helps if they have support from families, and if there’s a culture of healthy eating around them. Fast-food places need to have some truly healthier options, beyond boring salads—it’s getting better, but there’s still a long way to go. And schools and communities need to help too. It’s very hard if you’re on a school trip or at a sports meet or whatever, and there’s nothing to eat but hot dogs and donuts.

“…livestock production actually contributes more CO2 to the atmosphere than transportation!”

I so often think about that fact that the volume of unhealthy foods readily available to kids and the lack of healthy choices, are the biggest parts of the problem. What concerns you most about the future of our food supply in North America?

25275vClimate change is a big worry. The way we produce food is a huge contributor to climate change—livestock production actually contributes more CO2 to the atmosphere than transportation! And we’ve already seen how a changing climate affects our food supply—look at the droughts in California, which supplies about half of all our produce in North America.

Image of farm in California in the Public Domain

All those facts are certainly eye-opening. What do you hope readers learn most from the book?

What inspired me most while writing was how many stories there are about young people who have made a difference. Like the two Girl Guides who said, “No, we don’t think it’s right that orangutan habitats are being destroyed so we can get palm oil to make cookies,” and they actually got major companies to change their policies. Kids who stand up and say, “I don’t want animals to be treated that way to get my fast food,” or “There’s nowhere to buy fresh food in my community, and I’m going to do something about it,” are inspiring others. So I hope readers take to heart that there are things they can do, that there’s more awareness than ever before about many of these issues and they can find networks and organizations to help.

It’s amazing what kids with a passion can accomplish! Do you have any advise for someone who might want tofarm-animals-13800419412Sq write a sophisticated nonfiction book for older children like you did?

Kids and teens are smart, and they can handle more complex issues and ideas than we adults sometimes give them credit for. You don’t have to talk down to them or try too hard to sound like their buddy, because they can sense that phoniness a mile away. And nobody wants to be told what to think—your readers are the ones who get to decide how to think and what to do with the information you’ve given them.

Image of the cow in the Public Domain

No one else could have said that any better!

indexOf course, you do have to keep in mind how much information kids can take in without becoming overwhelmed, and you want to create something that’s appealing and fun to read. I was lucky to have great editors and readers who helped me find that balance. Presentation helps, too—Foodprints really benefits from having lots of colorful illustrations, photos, and graphics, which can help draw kids in to more complex or serious subjects.

Image of produce in the Public Domain

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Paula, I am so thrilled you wrote this outstanding, comprehensive book for teens. We’ve got to do a better job as  a society educating our children about not only what they are eating but also where their food is coming from, and your book is an excellent resource for them. If only every middle and high school had a course utilizing this book, the world would be a much better, healthier place!


 Buy Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat here






Weird Birds and Weird Frogs

A while back I reviewed author, biologist Chris Earley’s fascinating books Caterpillars and Dragonflies and now he’s back with Weird Birds and Weird Frogs.


 Cover image courtesy of Firefly Books

Weird Birds

  • Targeted Audience: Middle & High School (Ages 10-18)
  • Genre: Non-Fiction, Science Book
  • Author: Chris Earley
  • Publisher: Firefly Books
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2014
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 9″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length: 64 Pages
  • Retail: $9.95
  • ISBN: 978-1770854413

More Than 10,000 Species

Did you know there are more than 10,000 species of birds on planet earth? We all know that birds have feathers and wings, beaks and feet, but there is such great diversity among bird species, it’s mind-boggling. Weird Birds takes a closer look at 59 magnificent species of birds that are unique in the way the look, live, eat or survive. Each page features a stunning close-up photograph of a bird against a crisp, white background, with its name listed and a short paragraph describing its physical traits, habits and habitats.


© Image  –  Courtesy of Firefly Books

Do A Double Take

Being a Floridian myself, I was thrilled to see several interesting species of birds from South Florida and the Everglades like the Roseate Spoonbill, Anhinga and Flamingo, all of which I have photographed numerous times. There are many birds in the book I’ve never seen before too, that are so unusual, they require a second look. The Brown-Eared Pheasant has what appears to be beard that grows backward along sides and behind his head. The Luzon Bleeding Heart Pigeon is fluffy round blob with a red spot in the center of its chest that’s heart-shaped. And the Eurasian Hoopoe is odd looking, with it’s Indian headdress of a head,  and it spray feces at potential predators to protect itself. Ew!


 Cover image courtesy of Firefly Books

Weird Frogs

  • Targeted Audience: Middle & High School (Ages 10-18)
  • Genre: Non-Fiction, Science Book
  • Author: Chris Earley
  • Publisher: Firefly Books
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2014
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 9″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length: 64 Pages
  • Retail: $9.95
  • ISBN: 978-1770853614


Declining Populations

There have been close to 6,000 species of frogs identified, but frog populations are on the decline due to climate change, pollution, habitat loss, pet trade and invasive species. In Weird Frogs, we discover the most odd-looking amphibians, whether it’s the shape, size, coloration or unusual features. It’s unlikely to discover most of these creatures out in the wild, because they are pros at hiding. 58 different types of frogs are featured along with spectacular zoom photographs and fascinating descriptions about how they survive and where they live.


© Image  –  Courtesy of Firefly Books

More Shapes and Sizes Than You Ever Dreamed Possible

Frogs sure are funny looking creatures and the variety is astounding. There are 150 different species of Glass Frogs alone. From below, you can actually see into their bodies! The Solomon Island Leaf Frog has projections on its eyes and nose that make it look like a leaf. It even has ridges on its back that resemble leaf veins. The Mexican Burrowing Frog has the oddest shape and almost human-looking lips. It lives underground, eating ants and termites. The two most unusual looking frogs in the book are probably the Vietnamese Mossy Frog, with its lumpy bumpy body covered in a mossy color perfect for camouflage and Wallace’s Flying Frog with its bright green and yellow coloration and its black webbed feet.

Why You Should Buy These Books


Weird Birds and Weird Frogs are beautiful books with outstanding photographs that capture the reader’s attention, no matter what the age. The animals are as unique to look at as they are fascinating to learn about. Author Chris Early chooses not to bog the reader down with heavy text, so he starts each book with an interesting introduction, then each photograph of a species is accompanied only by a short paragraph description. Admiring the beauty and uniqueness of all these animals are what encourages children to want to learn more about helping protect them. These books will inspire your kids to get outdoors and explore the natural wonders around them. Exploring and appreciating nature and constantly asking questions and uncovering answers are essential parts of learning, and it is this curiosity that makes children smarter and better students.

DSC_0019 DSC_0029



As an author who wrote a children’s book about the rainforest, I paint posters of animals to teach children during my author visits. Reading Weird Birds and Weird Frogs has inspired me to want to paint more. Perhaps it will inspire your kids to do the same.

© Copyright by Debbie Glade

About the Author

DSCN2517 - chris earley and tree frog by christina smythChris Earley is the interpretive biologist at the University of Guelph Arboretum. He writes for adults and for children. His kids’ books encourage youngsters to get out and explore the natural world around them. He has previously written, Caterpillars and Dragonflies.

dragonflies 51VmpJrM7eL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Further Learning

  1. Visit the University of Guelph Arboretum website.
  2. Learn more about frogs from National Geographic.
  3. Learn more about birds from the Audubon Society.
  4. Visit the American Museum of Natural History.
  5. Take a nature hike with a camera to look for birds and frogs (season permitting.)


Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat


Cover image courtesy of Annick Press

Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat

•        Targeted Audience: Middle & High School (Ages 12-18)
•        Genre: Non-Fiction
•        Author/: Paula Ayer
•        Publisher: Annick Press
•        Publication Date: February 10, 2014
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 6.5″ X 9″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 206 Pages
•        Retail: $16.95
•        ISBN: 978-1554517183

“For several hundred thousand years humans existed like this-hunting animals, fishing and foraging for whatever edible plants or fruits they could find. Then around 12,000 years ago, things started to change in a big way.”

One of the Best Non-Fiction Children’s Books I’ve Ever Read

20150115_174658_resizedI’m an avid cook and organic home gardener, so I often think about where our food comes from, just how much of it we consume and that we can just walk into a grocery story and buy it beautifully wrapped without having to get our own food like  hunters and gatherers before us. I also live in Miami and am well aware of how much our country relies upon our farmers to produce fruits and vegetables during the winter months. But nothing prepared me for just how much I’d learn reading Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat.  The book is jaw-dropping fascinating and one of the best children’s non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

© Copyright Debbie Glade – My first organic tomatoes of this season.

“The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5 teaspoons of added sugar per day…The average American consumes a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.”

 Changing the Way We Think About Food

We all take for granted the fact that we have an abundance of food here in North America, and it’s truly easy to obtain. Just walk into a grocery store or farmer’s market and fill your cart, or even order it online and get it delivered to your door. But what does it take to feed hundreds of millions of people on our continent, keeping in mind that the food must be safe, appealing and affordable? When you discover how food is grown and shipped, packaged and displayed, you’ll think twice about the fact that Americans waste 40% of what they buy.


© Copyright – image courtesy of Annick Press

On top of all this, the choices we make about what we eat are some of the most important decisions we make in our lives – not only for our own health but also for the future of planet earth. Teens discover just how much their food choices are influenced by marketing, and by the time they are done reading this book, they will want to take a fresh new look at their diets.

“Over 90% of allergic reactions are caused by only eight foods: peanuts, other nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs, soy and wheat.”

A Comprehensive Look at Food

There’s so much invaluable information in Foodprints I can’t begin to present you with all the highlights, but here’s a list of some of what this book teaches:

  • DSC_0062How our food system evolved from hunter gatherers to on-line ordering
  • How mega farms and factories came to produce the bulk of our current food supply and what it takes to feed hundreds of millions of people from producing the food to shipping it and getting it on our grocery store shelves
  • How many of our foods contain corn and soy
  • How to work through confusing nutrition advice like good and bad carbs, as well as trendy superfoods such as kale, fad diets and how we digest our food
  • The role of science in the modern food system, from food-bourne illnesses, improving safety and convenience to GMOs and artificial flavors
  • How what we grow and farm effect the environment
  • Why food advertisers want teens’ attention and how they get it
  • Stories about youth who are working to shape the future of food in positive ways, such as guerilla gardening and media activism

Although Foodprints is packed with information, the text is broken up with photographs and drawings and spectacular pages called Infobites, containing charts and numbers that boggle the mind.

© Copyright – image courtesy of Annick Press

Why Every Teen in North America Should Read This Book

81DonyBOD8LA tremendous amount of research and work went into creating this book. It is written in a way that kids will understand and find fascinating. The bottom line is that we mustn’t take for granted the sources where our fruits and veggies are grown, meats are raised and the convenient ways we obtain them. The challenges and issues surrounding our food are not all clear cut. For example, genetically modified foods are often criticized, yet without them, we may not be able to produce food in the quantities needed to feed the world.  Kids need to see the big picture so they can draw their own conclusions about what is best. Eating habits are generally lifelong, so if we teach our children to make healthier choices while they are young, they will live longer, more productive lives. Just go to any grocery store and notice the volume of overweight and obese shoppers. Then glance at their carts to see the many high calorie, low-nutrition foods they are feeding their families. Just reading the statistics in Foodprints is enough to motivate our youth to get on board.

© Copyright – image courtesy of Annick Press

IMG000078_400x400About the Author

Paula Ayer has worked as an editor, translator, and art director, and has written for magazines and websites. She lives in Vancouver, BC, where she usually eats three meals a day.

Along with this book, I strongly recommend you order the outstanding workshop curriculum-based Media Smart Youth Program from The National Institutes of Health:





Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens

FB Like our Facebook Page and leave a comment on the post about this book (today only) for a chance to win it!


Cover image courtesy of Firefly Books

Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens

•        Targeted Audience: Middle School & High School (Ages 13 and Up)
•        Genre: Cook Book
•        Author: Evelyn Raab
•        Illustrator: George A. Walker
•        Publisher: Firefly Books
•        Publication Date: August 11, 2011 – Third Printing 2014
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 7″ X 10″
•        Printing: Black & White
•        Length: 216 Pages
•        Retail: $14.95
•        ISBN: 978-1554078240

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Hilarious Intro to Cooking

I’m an avid cook and baker and I credit my skills to reading Bon Appetit Magazine while soaking in the bathtub a few nights a week when I first got married many years ago. If only I had a copy of Clueless in the Kitchen when I was a teen, I’d have had a great foundation for cooking at a much earlier age. Author Evelyn Raab uses wit and humor to hook teens and make them want to learn cooking basics. Who knew a cookbook could be so funny and entertaining?

“How you ended up with this book is not important. Maybe your parents gave it to you. Maybe you bought it yourself. Maybe you found it in a ditch. It doesn’t matter. The thing is you have it, and now you have to use it. But how?”

Everything You Need to Get Started

Clueless in the Kitchen includes three intro chapters to teach the important basics. 1) Starting from Scratch. Here you’ll find tips on cooking and the key to recipe types – Cheap Eats, Mom Food, Vegetarian, Cooking to Impress, Dinner for Family. 2) The Kitchen-A Guide to Alien Territory. This chapter provides you with a list of essential cooking tools, directions on storing food and basic kitchen sanitation. 3) Shopping. From supermarket strategies to selecting fresh produce, shopping for meat and choosing the right herbs and spices, you’ll get the lowdown on how to stock your pantry and fridge.


Real Food Without the Fuss

fresh-produce1From soup and salad to dessert, every type of delicious recipe is presented, some with cheeky titles, all with witty intros, ingredients, of course, and very easy to understand and thorough directions on how to prepare them. How do Whole Wheat Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes sound? Or Thermonuclear Buffalo Wings? Maple Glazed Salmon? The author makes sure there are a lot of healthy food choices here, while at the same time shows young chefs how to make them so they taste delicious. There’s Gazpacho, Unfried Chicken, and even an entire chapter of Vegetarian food. There are no photos of food in the book, but the directions are so thorough, they really aren’t needed. There are sketches in the book only at the beginning of each chapter.

Image of produce in the Public Domain

“Oh sure you can slap a slice of baloney between two slices of white bread and call it a sandwich. And technically, it is. But is it a great sandwich? Not likely. A great sandwich is a creation. It’s a thing of beauty and it goes so well with a bowl of soup.”

Why You Should Buy This Impressive Book

By the time your teen is done reading and experimenting with the tips, tricks and recipes in Clueless in the Kitchen he or she will no longer be clueless in the kitchen and will be well on his or her way to becoming a well-rounded home cook. The recipes offer a wide range of tastes and represent every day food we all love to eat. They’ll even learn how to make a great cup of coffee!! Cooking is one of the most important skills we can teach our children, as they will learn more about proper nutrition while preparing their own dishes. The skill of being able to cook is the best way to ensure a healthier lifestyle. It also makes kids more aware of where our foods come from, so they’ll appreciate our farmers and markets. And what about the fact that your own child will be able to cook delicious meals for you from start to finish? Add the humorous, witty writing to all these other benefits of Clueless in the Kitchen and you’ve got a great book here.  The only downside is that you may have clean up duty after your child does all that wonderful cooking.

About the Author

Evelyn Raab‘s popular “Cooking With Kids” column has appeared in Today’s Parent magazine. In addition to Clueless in the Kitchen she has written The Clueless Vegetarian: A Cookbook for the Aspiring Vegetarian and The Clueless Baker: Learning to Bake from Scratch. She attributes her culinary expertise to her sons.

About the Illustrator

George A. Walker is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and illustrator who teaches book arts and printmaking at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario. He regularly exhibits his wood engravings and limited-edition books internationally. He is the author of The Woodcut Artist’s Handbook: Techniques and Tools for Relief Printmaking, Second Edition Updated and Expanded, which is also published by Firefly Books.