Sometimes I am left scratching my head at movie tie-in books. Sometimes publishers get it right. I love the way Disney/Pixar and Little Golden Books have collaborated to produce faithful and cooly illustrated adaptations of popular Disney/Pixar films. Other times I just wonder, what was the point? I've seen a few cookbooks based on random licensed properties but the recent ones based on Disney and Disney/Pixar films The Princess and the Frog (Tiana's Cookbook: Recipes for Kids) and Ratatouille (What's Cooking?: A Cookbook for Kids--which appears to be out of print but was available at my local library) get it right. Primarily because the central characters in these films have culinary aspirations. What better way to get kids involved in the kitchen than with a cookbook that features favorite characters and meals they might eat? Even better is when the recipes are for things you'd actually want to eat.
I wasn't particularly impressed with the Ratatouille cookbook. The recipes looked good and I think my older son would have enjoyed preparing some of them. However, most of the recipes relied on gluten-containing ingredients and just were not practical for the unique dietary needs of two of the four members of our household. It's not much of a kid-friendly cookbook if I have to take the additional step of adapting the recipes. However, the New Orleans-inspired recipes in Tiana's Cookbook were more celiac-friendly so it gets my wholehearted approval.
Full of New Orleans-inspired fare, Tiana's Cookbook is divided into sections for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, breads/sides/drinks and--most kids' favorite--desserts. I love that the New Orleans/cajun theme is carried throughout. How many kids' cookbooks have recipes for beignets or po' boy sandwiches? Obviously, the beignets don't work for us (without significant tweaking) but the sandwiches are doable if we use our gluten-free bread. The most useful section is the dinner section. Recipes for jambalaya and red beans and rice are easy for my seven year old to follow. Some steps (sauteing veggies in oil, chopping veggies) require my supervision but it's a step beyond assembling sandwiches. Each recipe includes a brief description (in the form of a "note" from Tiana) and photo. Illustrations of characters from the movie appear every few pages. I particularly like that there is a lot of healthier fare here: fruit salad, oven-baked fish, green beans, smoothies, oven-baled potato wedges . . . the healthier recipes provide a nice counter balance for things like mud pie and macaroni and cheese.
As far as the princess theme of the book goes . . . well, I have two boys. They will only grudgingly watch Disney princess movies with me (I am still waiting for them to acknowledge the artistic genius of Sleeping Beauty, my favorite animated Disney movie. I don't see it happening.) They saw The Princess and the Frog when it was in the theater and they enjoyed it but not enough to see it again. That's okay; my seven year old is still enthusiastic about taking responsibility for making some of our meals and to him, a recipe is a recipe, even if it's illustrated with flowers and princesses. Though I'm sure my boys would prefer a Batman cookbook.
Get this book: if you want a childrens' cookbook that offers something more than typical "kid" food or you have a princess-obsessed child. How fun would it be to create a Princess and the Frog themed dinner to be followed by a viewing of the movie?