Dumplings and grilled cheese star in new children’s books by local authors

As a food writer, I’m always on the lookout for thoughtful gifts for the kids in my life that will encourage them to branch out and try new foods and hopefully I’ll learn something along the way. These gifts often come in the form of books.

Coincidentally, there are two such books on the agenda where local authors mock not only their love of food, but also valuable lessons about community, diversity and self-confidence.

It’s an exhilarating moment as Sylvia wakes up to find that Pancake Day is in her apartment building. She makes her way to the stairwell where she catches a whiff of sautéed garlic and ginger on a slow flame and tomatoes cooked on the stove…

And so begins her day. From kreplach and khinkali to Johnny cakes and jiao zi, Sylvia and her friends take a journey around the world through food, discovering and celebrating the unique flavors and techniques their families use to make their beloved dumpling recipes.

Creating intersections between food and culture is a natural for Milwaukee-based author Francie Decker. For years I worked as a youth gardener and nutrition educator. As the author of Edible Milwaukee’s “Kids’ Table” quarterly column, she explored the intersections of gardening, food, and culture in children’s lives.

She did much of the same in her first picture book, Our World of Dumplings, a book that takes readers on a journey of culinary discovery and community building through the power of food.

Frances DeckerX

Decker’s book, geared towards young readers ages 4 to 8, not only showcases the diversity of dumplings enjoyed around the world, but clearly demonstrates the power of food in bringing people together to celebrate their differences.

Interested in learning more? The Boswell Book Company will host, 2559 N. Downer Ave. Afternoon book conversation with Dekker on Saturday 24th September at 4pm Registration for the event is free and can be completed online. Signed copies of her book are also available Order by Boswell.

Dekker is also available for School visitsduring which you give interactive presentations that focus on the power of communication through food, goal setting, and more.

Despite being made with the same ingredients as the other grilled cheese sandwiches in Griddleville, the Grillie never felt like it belonged. Its peers all seem to have a purpose, whether it’s dipping into bowls of tomato soup or serving as an accompaniment to a unique side dish. But not Greeley. Therefore, she makes the decision to leave Griddleville in search of something else.

This beautifully illustrated book offers an unexpected lesson in self-discovery, providing accurate insights into the value of being unique and wonderful on its own path. It’s cute and smart, and yes, there are a few grilled cheeses dropped along the way. But at its core, the book offers a powerful reminder that comparing oneself to others is nothing more than a recipe for breaking down.

Sandy ReitmanX

“One Grillie” is the brainchild of the author Sandy Reitman, a freelance writer and full-time copywriter whose search for meaning has led to her writing business in both New York and Milwaukee. When she’s not working, she spends her time exploring Milwaukee’s culinary scene and taking on creative assignments that allow her to channel her passion for creative writing.

The name of her inaugural children’s book belies her roots in Cream City, inspired by the kitchen language used by workers at Kopp’s Frozen Custard who shout “One Grillie!” Whenever a customer orders a grilled cheese sandwich.

“One Grillie” is slated to launch in January of 2023, but it could be Pre-ordered online by Mascot Books for $18.95 (plus shipping).

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