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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shrek Cookbook - Book Review



(***Due to layout of this review, if viewed in an RSS reader, certain sections may seem duplicated.)

Before we begin, the normal disclaimer.

This book review was solicited by the publishers of the Shrek Cookbook and contains my opinion of the book. For kosher readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen - This is not a "kosher" cookbook though the majority of recipes in the Shrek Cookbook can be used as is, or with just a few sane and healthy substitutions, can be kept kosher. (Indeed as far as I could tell every recipe in this book can be kept kosher.) It is not that difficult to find equivalent and healthy kosher substitutes these days, especially in the United States.

Book Details:

The Shrek Cookbook, published by Dorling Kindersley (www.dk.com) is a publicized as a cookbook for children (ages 4-8). It's 30+ recipes come in Ringbound Hard Cover, so the pages can be turned easily while the book lays on a counter top.

The font is large, catering to the child and parent alike. There is one recipe on each double page. As the picture below of "Molten Lava Soup" depicts.



The Shrek Cookbook does devote its first page to explaining rules about cooking to the child. Making sure an adult is present, keeping hair tied and being clean. A lot of adults should read these directions as well!This type of layout is excellent especially for the parent/young child duo in the kitchen. As you can tell from the picture the layout is professional and fun. There are quite a few elements to the Shrek Cookbook layout, in which one can tell that a great deal of thought went into it. It is critical to point this out, because it would be easy to just slap Shrek pictures all over the book and then present it as a Shrek Cookbook for Children.

The elements to each recipe are as follows:
  1. A character from the Shrek Movies is picked and a name for the recipe representing the character and the recipe is displayed. Each recipe has been given a name based upon the character "featured" within the recipe. You can find names such as "Captain Hook's Fish Cakes", "Fiona's Feisty Chili" or "Royal Chocolate Truffles".
  2. A couple of short-short cute descriptions of the character to tie them into the recipe.
  3. A separate box for the ingredients.
  4. An overall description of the recipe with the character.
  5. Recipe instructions - clearly marked in steps, e.g. 1,2,3 etc.
  6. 3-5 Real Pictures of the recipe and the steps.
  7. A picture of the final product
  8. A box telling the child about the character and why this character is attached to the recipe.
So as you can tell the Shrek Cookbook is a fairly complete layout and all in full color. The final product is consistent and colorful and entertaining. (I am prejudiced though - I happen to love Shrek.)



The Shrek Cookbook layout is good and consistent; the pictures are sometimes awesome; the recipes do produce what they say they will produce; the instructions are clear; an older child can certainly help and learn how to do things; and your child will be entertained with Shrek.All of this is clear and great for a child to look at. The recipes though, in the Shrek Cookbook are very simple. Simple is a good thing. They seem to be geared for the child to help out a bit, and for the parent to not have to slave over fancy things. Taking away all the funny names there is a recipe for hamburgers, one for some vegetables and noodles stir fried, aptly called "Stir-Fry Worms & Insects"; a healthy rice, brocolli and chicken dish called "Swamp Slime With Maggots".

The book does devote its first page to explaining rules about cooking to the child. Making sure an adult is present, keeping hair tied and being clean. A lot of adults should read these directions as well!

Of course, with a child who likes Shrek, you will be laughing and giggling a great deal - and that is what cooking with children should be all about anyway.Some of the recipes are not recipes though. A complaint - which I am not sure is a plus or minus actually. For instance in "Waffles a la Donkey" it is simply teaching the child how to toast frozen waffles and put the maple syrup or other topping on it. Or "Magical Morning Potions" is simply a way of showing the child how many different types of juice you can make from fruit in the juicer. But in all due fairness to the book the recipes do progress from the simple to the more complicated.

The recipe creation and making is for the parent - the book, pictures and cute lines are for the parent and child. It is an interesting way to get your child involved in the kitchen - if the child is so inclined to be. The layout artists worked hard on the book, making sure it was not just a venture in slapping Shrek pictures over recipes.



The Drawbacks:
  1. The recipe creation and making is for the parent - the book, pictures and cute lines are for the parent and child. It is an interesting way to get your child involved in the kitchen - if the child is so inclined to be.I am not one to establish age brackets for books, however, personally I believe the age bracket is a bit misleading. While the pictures in the Shrek Cookbook, of Shrek and his friends, will appeal to the 4-8 age bracket, I tend to doubt, that except for the extremely precocious and dexterous child, normal children in that age bracket, will do any cooking from this book. And that age bracket, though only 5 years, (4,5,6,7 and 8) has a huge gap in reading skills and comprehension from the 4 year old to the 8 year old.

    The recipes in the Shrek Cookbook are very simple. Simple is a good thing. They seem to be geared for the child to help out a bit, and for the parent to not have to slave over fancy things.This does not in any way take away from the recipes contained within the Shrek Cookbook. Nor does it say anything about how good they may or may not be. The ages marked on the book are for the parent, who when going through the book store, will see the Shrek Cookbook as possibly a good way to entertain the children with Shrek, and maybe have them a bit interested in creating something in the kitchen. But no 4, 5 or 6 year old that I know could possibly manage any of the recipes in the book, except for the really easy ones at the beginning of the book. In other words - let us say it straight. You are not going to turn your child into a chef with this book. What you will do is end up showing them the pictures and reading the ideas to them - but of course, you are going to end up doing the cooking and baking. Of course, with a child who likes Shrek, you will be laughing and giggling a great deal - and that is what cooking with children should be all about anyway.

  2. Sometimes "cute" is good. Sometimes it is just plain "too cutesy". At times this cookbook, in order to maintain the "child appeal" gets too cutesy with the recipes and names and pictures and quips. However, in defense, the book's layout is, as I said above, done very well.

  3. I do believe in reading and improving your vocabulary - at any age. But some of the words used in the Shrek Cookbook are a bit out there. "Aura" and "odious" and the like are GREAT words, but once again it shows that the essential market here is the "Parent" and not the child - certainly legitimate, but good to be aware of.

  4. By the way, this is also a great book for you grandparents out there who do things with your young grandchildren. You should also purchase it if you need quick, healthy and decent ideas to feed the kids.Do not expect any "sophisticated" recipes in the Shrek Cookbook. Though this should be fairly obvious, it is important to point out. These recipes are made for a child's palette, (and for adults like me!). On the upside even if you are not an experienced cook, or hate the kitchen, you will not have an overly abundant amount of cooking or baking in any recipe. And many of these recipes are great for the whole family.

Should you purchase the Shrek Cookbook? If your child is interested in Shrek, and you want to do something with them - together - in the kitchen, then most definitely, go out and get the Shrek Cookbook. By the way, this is also a great book for you grandparents out there who do things with your young grandchildren. You should also purchase it if you need quick, healthy and decent ideas to feed the kids. It is obviously not a gourmet cookbook, but the Shrek Cookbook keeps to the basics and keeps it simple. And if you are not that dexterous in the kitchen - then it is certainly a great book to consider. All in all we give this book a Four Star rating. It's layout is good and consistent; the pictures are sometimes awesome; the recipes do produce what they say they will produce; the instructions are clear; an older child can certainly help and learn how to do things; and your child will be entertained with Shrek. And as I said above - with a child who likes Shrek, you will be laughing and giggling a great deal - and that is what cooking with children should be all about anyway.

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2 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

Paula's Poetry said...

Great review Ted

This one looks like fun. What child does not like the grossness of maggots, worms and such? Shrek is a cool dude.

The plus side, perhaps this will do for children and cooking what J.K. Rowling did to get kids reading again.

kali said...

i've never seen Shrek, and (with apologies to paula) i've never been a fan of "maggots, worms and such"...ewww!

i was given "Betty Crocker's Boy's and Girl's Cookbook" when i was about 5 or 6 and many of the recipes were so easy to follow, that i was able to pretty much cook on my own... not all of them, mind you, but several (that book was aimed at 8-15 yr olds!) so don't discount kids' interest or ability when it comes to cooking.

and interestingly enough, i still refer to that particular cookbook when i make a yellow cake from scratch, or want to give someone a simple recipe for meatloaf