Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

I am hot and cold on Lucy Knisley’s stuff, to be honest. However, I was pretty excited about this middle grade realistic fiction graphic novel, which I knew would be a hit with my students. I really liked this, though I felt upset knowing (from reading ahead of time and then from her afterward) that it was very much a true memoir. Her mom’s boyfriend is a dick who puts her down and her mom doesn’t stand up for her. Her mom and mom’s boyfriend seem pretty demanding (we’ve moved to the country but you have all the chores and are soley responsible for caring for chickens you didn’t even want.) as well as uncaring of her feelings (taking the boyfriend’s children’s side without seeing what’s really happening.) I felt so so outraged on her behalf and upset that none of the adults really acknowledged how wrong that all was.  I do think a lot of kids will relate to the “adults in my life make decisions that affect me but I just have to go along with it because I’m a kid” aspect.  I’m curious how kids will react to this.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

[Reading challenge, Alex award)

relishThis has been on my radar to read for quite a long time, and I’m glad that it took me this long to get it because now I got to read it and have it be part of this year’s reading challenge. Interestingly, for last year’s challenge I read her other book, French Milk, and was very disappointed. Relish, on the other hand, did not disappoint. I loved it! I’ve kept it in mind all day, in fact, because so much of the book is about cooking for people you love, and expressing caring and stories through food, and I happen to be in the midst of preparing a wonderful birthday dinner for my mom. This is on the Alex awards list and it is a graphic novel.

Lucy tells all about how she grew up surrounded by food, and how food has formed her memories and the story of her childhood and young adult years (she’s still a young woman-certainly younger than me.) She grew up part of a serious food scene-her mom is a chef, moved to the country in New York, and was a part of developing the local food scene, well connected to other foodies.  In one section Lucy talks about catering a photo shoot of Kate Hudson.

I liked how this was in different chapters-a European adventure, adjusting to country life, visiting Mexico on the brink of adolescence, attending art school, etc. and how each of those told a full story of the foods and what was going on, and concluded with a recipe. And I loved how the recipes are illustrated! I want to make the chocolate chip cookies (with coconut!), sushi rolls, and shephard’s pie. And even though McDonald’s is not my indulgent fast food of choice (though I do love their fries and have a fondness for the burger), I really appreciated her ode to fast food and unapologetic statements that there’s a reason people like to eat it-it’s delicious!

I think that whether or not you are a serious gourmand, a beginner cook, or somewhere in between, you’ll enjoy this.  Possibly people who don’t like food that much wouldn’t get this book. But I don’t get people who don’t enjoy food and so I’ll just say they’re weird!