We know popcorn is a favorite snack in America, but did you know Vietnamese children drink frosty glasses of iced sugarcane juice? Children in Oman eat pita bread dipped in hummus and wash it down with a glass of fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice, sugar, and fizzy soda water. This nonfiction picture book, part of the "Meals Around the World" series, will teach young children about different snack foods in other parts of the world. The last page lists a way to log onto the Internet and let the "fact hound" do more research on websites relate to the book. This hidden information at the back of the book would have better served readers if it was included in the front. One of the most interesting features of the book is the fun facts section at the back. This information should have been included in the text pages of the picture book. As it is, the text content is a bit on the slim side. Although snacks are interesting, the text does not hold the "wow appeal" needed to impress today's young readers. 2004, Picture Window Books, Ages 5 to 10.
K-Gr 3-Beginning with a simple world map, each of these books proposes a "journey" to sample foods in foreign lands. Tapping a high-interest topic, they seek to promote cultural understanding, a pillar of the social studies curriculum in many schools. Unfortunately, this clever concept is flawed in execution. In a haphazard selection of nine countries, South America is not represented at all. There is no link established between food items and geography. Evening Meals is the stronger title. Here the American hamburger is juxtaposed with such dinners as Ethiopian goat stew and the typical Australian lamb chop. The idea that people around the globe share food at day's end is communicated. The introduction of a single meal plus a fact about customary mealtime behavior is an appropriate portion for the intended audience. Bright illustrations denote physical differences among the world's peoples. Simple recipes are included. Following the same format, Snack Time pays more attention to the sugary treats and fast-food options available abroad than to native fare. Both books are easy to digest but not very satisfying.-Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.