“By smoothly incorporating three crucial ingredients—accessible format, clear prose, and engaging images of diverse people—Mr. Ancona has created a vibrant children’s picture book that offers a mélange of opportunities to discuss customs around the world.”
Enticing platters and colorful trays of photographs sprinkled with simple details, fill the menu of George Ancona’s latest nonfiction book for children.
From the cover image of a white plate framing a shot of a snaggle-toothed Chinese girl ready to dispose of a mouthful of noodles to the back photo of a tortilla-eating, mustachioed man who looks much like Mr. Ancona himself, Come and Eat! will whet children’s appetite for insight into mealtime customs around the world.
This fun little square-shaped book features engaging, sharp photos of people of a range of ages and backgrounds, as they gather for meals. Mr. Ancona both shows and tells what, how, when, why, and where we eat—whether it’s in the elementary-school cafeteria or on the back of a pickup truck. Some folks use forks, while others use chopsticks or fingers. Some scoop up food, as Nigerians do with fufu, a paste made of cassava root. Some families pray before eating. One circular frame shows Muslims kneeling on rugs to pray before eating.
Mr. Ancona’s interesting, varied photographic compositions keep the subject matter engaging. He highlights a broad range of humanity by employing both round and rectangular images, some nearly filling the page and others encompassing a page and a half. Some of Mr. Ancona’s most pleasing shots zoom in on small groups or individuals, such as the shot of a Tibetan girl drinking soup from a small blue-and-white bowl. Another particularly lovely scene shows a Jewish family gathered around a menorah, its golden candlelight illuminating their faces.
Sharing food is both noteworthy and ordinary, as Mr. Ancona observes: “The act of ‘breaking bread’ together invites friendship, laughter, and good feelings. We may sit down next to a stranger, but by the end of the meal, we have become friends. Eating together becomes a ceremony to celebrate life.”
An award-winning author and photographer, Mr. Ancona recently received the coveted Pura Belpré Award Honor Book for Author for his lively ¡Olé! Flamenco! His numerous other awards include the Pura Belpré honor for illustrations for Barrio: José’s Neighborhood. Of his more than 100 published books, Mr. Ancona both wrote and illustrated two-thirds of them. Come and Eat! earns its place in his exemplary body of work, distinguished by well-conceived and executed photos and culturally sensitive subjects and texts.
By smoothly incorporating three crucial ingredients—accessible format, clear prose, and engaging images of diverse people—Mr. Ancona has created a vibrant children’s picture book that offers a mélange of opportunities to discuss customs around the world.