MMGM and #IMWAYR: Yummy!

People in my life who read this blog will know that I've had some big change in my life this week, and I'm grateful to those same people for staying connected with me. I'm going to fight to stay connected with them too.

I haven't read much this week, which is a shame, because I've gotten to visit several wonderful bookstores I'm hoping to post about soon, and I have all these new books I want to read! I made myself sit down and finish the book I had started last week—which was of course totally fun and I'm glad I did. So I'll share about that book today, and hopefully I'll get to read all my other cool books and talk about them soon!

Middle Grade:

Yummy

A History of Desserts

Written and illustrated by Victoria Grace Elliott
Graphic novel · 2021
Book 1 of 2 (Yummy · Tasty)

· · · The publisher says: · · ·

Cake is delicious, and comics are awesome: this exciting nonfiction graphic novel for kids combines both! Explore the history of desserts through a fun adventure with facts, legends, and recipes for readers to try at home.

Have you ever wondered who first thought to freeze cream? Or when people began making sweet pastry shells to encase fruity fillings? Peri is excited to show you the delicious history of sweets while taking you around the world and back!

The team-up that made ice cream cones!

The mistake that made brownies!

Learn about and taste the true stories behind everyone’s favorite treats, paired with fun and easy recipes to try at home. After all, sweets—and their stories—are always better when they’re shared!

· · · · · ·

If you've followed this blog for a while, you might be surprised I would pick up an MG nonfiction book—reading about the history of desserts isn't really my style. And I'll say, if you're big on desserts or nonfiction or random facts, you're going to love this book even more than I did. But! Coming into this as a graphic novel nerd with no real expectations for the actual facts, I was mostly just fascinated to see how this book is assembled. And I'm completely in love with how Victoria Grace Elliott hasn't just told a readable yet thorough history of everything from cakes to gummy bears, but also created an entire meta-universe of three delightful food sprites presenting this history to us! It's a nonfiction book that's also secretly a fiction book, in a sense.

The format of this book is so brilliant I want to scream. There are eight chapters, each dedicated to a specific dessert—pies, brownies, you name it. Unlike a lot of nonfiction books that are filled with sidebars and pictures you have to look away from the narrative to see (which I hate), everything in Yummy flows sequentially within the same narrative and comic panels. Peri is our energetic, witty, dedicated-to-a-fault host, and canonically, she's the one who's researched everything we read, pinning up her notes on one of those boards where detectives try to pin down a suspect. If you've ever gotten a little too obsessive about a passion project (*raises hand*), you're Peri.

But Peri's not alone on this adventure. She's got two food sprite companions—Fee, sweet and earnest and excellent at shapeshifting, and Fada, a chocolate-loving occasionally-grumbly science nerd. I love this trio so much, and they come together to create so many brilliant moments that bring us into the history of these foods. When Peri's not introducing specific desserts and historical developments, she's interviewing key figures who helped create these desserts (by which I mean she's interviewing Fee who's shapeshifted into one of these figures). Or she's learning from Fada about the science of baking (did you know butter actually creates the air pockets in some of our favorite baked goods?). Or she's hosting storytime and introducing Fee, Fada, and the reader to the legends of different baked goods—which she does acknowledge may not be 100% true, but are still famous nonetheless. Or she and Fee and Fada are sharing actual recipes for the reader that are fully drawn out in comic panels (watching tiny little sprites carry around measuring cups and spatulas as big as they are is so delightful). A one-page atlas of how a specific dessert evolved around the globe starts most chapters off, because this book wasn't extra enough already!

The structure of this book isn't just delightful and whimsical, it's also keenly assembled to handle the difficulties of talking about history. Because we don't know how the people who created (and ate) desserts throughout history would have talked or acted, Victoria Grace Elliott never anthropomorphizes them directly. When Peri is interviewing Fee as a historical figure, you can still see Fee's pink hair, and she'll talk about her performance afterward. In the storytime vignettes, the only places where historical figures are directly shown, the historical figures' eyes are removed to create just a little bit of visual distance between them and the reader, like we're looking through a haze. (And Fada's occasional frustrations that the stories can't be proven true serve as another reminder to take things with a grain of salt sugar.) The visuals in the rest of the book stay focused on the desserts themselves, or visual aids, or historical artifacts, keeping the book's perspective firmly centered in the present, looking back on the past.

I also really appreciate that our host Peri is skillful at—well, everything, but I was going to mention acknowledging the painful history of some of these desserts. She doesn't dig too far into it, but she's always deliberate about sharing when a dessert originates from colonization, or was only for the wealthy, or otherwise reflects the race and class differences that unfortunately characterize so much of history.

What's most amazing about Yummy is how there is delight on every page. Victoria Grace Elliott solves every storytelling problem she has in as fun a way as possible, and each storytime, or recipe session, or science discussion serves to characterize the food sprites further, as three sweet-hearted guides working together to introduce us to the wonderful world of desserts. There's a sequel to this book called Tasty with the same main sprites (plus one extra) but different foods to explore, and I hope to check it out not just to see more of Elliott's keen research and straightforward presentation, but to jump back into this delightful universe of characters who want to show us the stories behind the treats we adore so much.

That's all for now—take care, and happy reading! ✨✨

Comments

  1. What a really clever idea to do a nonfiction dessert book in graphic novel form (I agree that looking away from the narrative is annoying).

    I hope whatever is going on in your life resolves in a positive manner.

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    Replies
    1. I know, the whole idea for the book is genius, and the execution is just as genius! And I’m glad you get what I mean about sidebars—I find it so distracting when I’m sitting down and trying to read the whole book.

      And things are definitely going in a direction I feel good about—I appreciate the kind words! Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen!

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  2. Honestly, this is not a book I would ever have picked up--except now I've read your review and I actually want to read it! I love that you have stacks of new books to keep you company this week. Bookstore visits are the best and a pile of shiny new books is comfort at its best.

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  3. I've been seeing this on a couple of blogs and the reviews sound wonderful. Will need to bump it up on my list. Happy MMGM to you

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  4. ARGH! I accidentally shut down this window before publishing my comment.
    I have now downloaded this book and Princess Princess Ever After!
    Happy reading this week Max.

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  5. I somehow bookmarked this last week. Did you mention it then? Anyway, love all the parts you shared. It sounds like so much fun to read. I like hearing about those two 'companions', too, great imagination! Thanks, Max!

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  6. Yummy sounds great. I bet my daughter and I would have read it together when she was a kid.

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  7. A history of desserts does sound very YUMMY! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  8. You had me at dessert. What a perfect idea for a nonfiction book and one that will delight readers of all ages. I had not heard of this title but will be tracking down a copy for some summertime reading. Always stay connected to those important people in your life, Max! Happy MMGM!

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  9. I wish the best for you, Max! And thank you for sharing about this book. The format sounds so good, and gosh it would definitely make me feel hungry as I’m reading! Haha any excuse for a trip to the bakery, I’ll take! Definitely need to read this one, thanks for sharing!

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  10. I've seen this book somewhere, and I'm so glad to read your review-- it sounds like the book lives up to all the things I hoped it would be! I'm gonna have to check this one out. It looks too delicious to miss. :)

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