"Tallulah's specialty is pancakes and she's always experimenting with new recipe varieties. Just last week she invented the chocolate chip flip with mini marshmallows and sliced bananas." - Tallulah in the Kitchen, Nancy Wolff
Part picture book, part instruction manual, Nancy Wolff's Tallulah in the Kitchen is one of the first books I recall reading over and over to my six year old. He was a newly minted two year old who had recently stopped napping and I was very pregnant. In my desperate attempt to enforce some type of quiet time during the day we read. A lot. Tallulah in the Kitchen was one of the books procured from our local library and during the three weeks it was in our possession it was one of our favorites.
We recently revisted this book because I remembered how much we enjoyed it the first time around. My six year old didn't remember it at all but I was happy to see that he loved it just as much, perhaps even more because he now has a better understanding of the humor. My four year old loved it too.
Tallulah is an aspiring chef whose specialty is pancakes. She enjoys creating new and unusual recipes (some are flops, like the one filled with coconut and jelly beans) and trying international pancakes (like crepes). Today, though, she is making blueberry pancakes and recruiting her friends Freddie and Roxy (and her dog, Flapjack) to help. We see Tallulah shopping for ingredients and organizing her supplies, then doing everything from mixing the batter to flipping the pancakes. Frequent asides give mini cooking and safety tips ("oven mitts are a must when handling hot pots and pans") but feel organic to the story. It's a story but it's also a clever way of introducing young readers to the basics of preparing a meal from start to finish. In the end, Tallulah and her friends enjoy their pancakes--as pancakes should be enjoyed--together.
Beyond the appealing storyline (who doesn't love pancakes?), the illustrations perfectly complement Tallulah's quirky personality and the story's overall tone. Wolff uses a variety of techiniques (bright saturated colors, collage, newsprint, different fonts) to create unique and eye catching illustrations. I'm sure the busy illustrations and animal characters (Tallulah is a cat, Freddie a crocodile and Roxy a pig) are what initially caught my son's attention. This is a sweet and humorous book that shows just how much fun cooking can be, especially when you're cooking with friends.
It has become something of a tradition for me to make pancakes for dinner when my husband is out of town. I am of the opinion that breakfast is good at any time of the day. My boys agree. So last Friday evening, after reading Tallulah in the Kitchen, we made:
Tallulah's Amazing Blueberryalicious Pancakes
- 1 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
- 1 large egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil
- blueberries (fresh or frozen)
(Full disclosure: This is not the recipe included in the book. That recipe is a traditional pancake recipe that calls for flour. We followed the recipe on the back of our gluten-free baking mix. Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix, by the way, is amazing.)
1. Whisk water, oil and egg together.
2. Add liquids to the dry mix and stir together.
3. When batter is thoroughly mixed, add blueberries. I didn't measure. I let each of the kids pour from the bag until it looked about right. Gently fold blueberries into the mix.
4. Pour batter into pan or griddle. When the pancakes begin to bubble, flip them and let cook on the opposite side. In my experience the second side cooks much quicker.
Can't get enough pancakes? Some of our other favorite books about pancakes are Eric Carle's Pancakes, Pancakes! and Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
While researching information about Nancy Wolff I discovered that in 2008 she partnered with sleepwear designer Karen Neuburger (I love her fuzzy sleep socks!) to create a line of children's pajamas featuring Tallulah and her friends. Proceeds from their sale benefit First Book, a non-profit that provides new books to low income families and encourages families to read together.