The World in Your Lunch Box
Claire Eamer, author
Sa Broothroyd, illustrator
Annick Press

Ever wondered where tomatoes originated? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Italy. What about ice cream? Watermelon? Vanilla? Pita bread?

The World in Your Lunch Box is a delightful exploration of some of the foods your student might have in his or her school lunch in a given week. A teacher assigns his students the following: keep a diary of your lunch for a week and look up information about each of the parts of your lunch. Brief history, scientific information, and weird facts are presented about foods as diverse as those mentioned above, plus parts of a pizza, chocolate, corn, …. Funny little drawings punctuate the text including little jokes (i.e. Pita bread says to regular bread, “Bread, you’ll never understand, you were just raised differently.” Bread responds, “Pita, you’re full of hot air.” yuk yuk yuk)

Middle school students will enjoy this little nonfiction gem–and may come home requesting some new foods! I appreciated the way certain periods of history (i.e. colonization, spice trade, etc.) and the balance between organic and conventionally grown produce was handled. Information was given, but no judgment passed. The point of this book is not to convert anyone to a particular perspective, but to open a kid’s eyes to the interesting background of a seemingly ordinary school lunch. There is a nice bibliography and thorough index in the back as well; books recommended for kids definitely come from the more politically correct persuasions, but they seem fairly well rounded.

I think a nice touch would be the addition of some kid-friendly recipes (for instance, there’s a suggestion to make your own pizza…but no recipe! The making of mayonnaise is discussed–another potential recipe to try would be great there).

Recommended for upper elementary and up (reading level is not difficult, but kids will get more out of this book if they have a working knowledge of history; references are made to things such as “when the Spanish conquered the …” without any further elaboration). Book is in stores now and hopefully will be in libraries in the near future!

Advance review copy from netgalley; cover image from goodreads