Growing-up one of my favorite bedtime tales was The Popcorn Book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. I simply adored having this story read to me over and over again. Brimming to the rim with fun facts and historical anecdotes, this tenderly drawn read is sure to become a beloved possession in no time. Children will enjoy learning that archeologists have discovered popcorn kernels that were more than 5,600 years old and like me wonder at the oddity of early colonists eating popcorn soup. All of these fascinating experiences are bookended with the story of two young brothers, accompanied by their cats, making popcorn the proper way — on the stove in a pot with oil and salt. The book even includes instructions and recipes to make your own batch of buttery goodness for those of you who might only be familiar with popcorn that comes out of the microwave. This interactive delicacy will undoubtedly be a huge hit with the entire family.

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The Gigantic TurnipTruth be told the dish I’m most looking forward to having tomorrow at my boyfriend’s annual family Thanksgiving extravaganza is “Uncle Bob and Aunt Leslie’s Turnips.” Poor Uncle Bob & Aunt Leslie…until I started dating Chris I’m not sure that anyone ever ate their yummy side dish. This is a household full of turnip haters, but I grew up eating turnips and I just happen to LOVE them so I always make sure to take a big scoop of his carrot and turnip mash.

When I stumbled upon The Gigantic Turnip storybook and CD set recently I instantly connected with the tale. This could be a great opportunity for parents to use a lighthearted picture book to cultivate a love or turnips in their own children’s diets. Story time followed by a hearty meal sounds like a fabulous way to spend a wintry night to me.

From the publisher: Written by Aleksei Tolstoy and illustrated by: Niamh Sharkey, find out what happens when the old woman, the old man, and all twenty-one animals on the farm try to harvest a rather large root vegetable. This well-loved Russian tale uses humor, counting and repetition to appeal to beginner readers.

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Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard TimesLike many fellow Americans, Suzan Colón’s was laid off in 2008. Separated from her high-paying position at a New York magazine Suzan took matters into her own hands and tightened the purse strings by cooking. This economical decision led her to reacquaint herself with not only a host of beloved family recipes but also served as a reminder that many of her relatives had lived and even thrived during extremely lean times. Of course, just because you may be low on funds doesn’t mean you have to be poor of spirit. Suzan and the women in her family are always aware of how a little splurge can keep the heart light i.e. buying expensive cherries in winter, or in Suzan’s case, a pricey container of French Raisins from Fairway Market.

While reading this highly enjoyable memoir of frugality and perseverance I found myself often thinking of my own family’s culinary mainstays including my grandmother’s pork pie and peanut butter fudge, and my mother’s amazing raised doughnuts. I’m certain you’ll also fall into a warm nostalgic revelry as well while devouring this excellent tale. Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times is available now. You can also connect with the author at

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Cloudy With a Chance of MeatballsWhy not relive some childhood memories by picking up a copy of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs before the film version is released this month. Then you can be the annoying person in the theater who keeps blabbing to their companions about all of the horrible inaccuracies and possibly go off on a tangent about how nothing is sacred anymore. Of course if you aren’t familiar with this much loved bedtime story then by all means please read the publisher’s description below:

The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers. Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagues by damaging floods and storms of huge food. The town was a mess and the pople feared for their lives. Something had to be done, and in a hurry.

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