In the Family: Culinary Biographies for Kids

If the upcoming “Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz is next on your reading list, we've got the perfect companion biographies for your little foodies-in-training.  From a fun and kid-friendly take on Julia's life, to the tales of a female sushi chef, a famous chocolatier, an intrepid cookbook author and the inventor of the potato chip, here's something to read for every burgeoning food lover in your life -- whatever his or her taste may be.

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child” by Jessie Hartland

Reading level: Age ten and up

Though it's suitable for kids ages ten and up, “Bon Appetit!” reads more like a graphic novel than a picture book and would make a great gift for grown-up Julia Child fans, too. With turquoise-hued exuberance, Jessie Hartland's bright, whimsical and busy illustrations tell Julia's story from her birth in 1912 through her childhood, her cooking classes at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school and her career as a TV chef. Hartland wraps it all up with a simple crepe recipe that kids can make with the help of an adult.

Hiromi's Hands” by Lynne Barasch

Reading level: Age six and up

Japanese food lovers in first or second grade will find inspiration from this picture book about Hiromi Suzuki, one of the first women to break into the traditionally all-male world of sushi chefs.  She started on her groundbreaking journey at age eight, when her sushi chef father took her with him to New York's Fulton Fish Market, and she began making sushi when she was thirteen. Fun fact: The author-illustrator's daughter and Hiromi were childhood friends, which gives this true story a warmly personal quality.

Milton Hershey: Young Chocolatier” by M.M. Eboch; Illustrated by Meryl Henderson

Reading level: Age eight and up

Any kid who has ever run a lemonade stand, sold Girl Scout cookies or simply found delight in a Hershey's Kiss will appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of Milton Hershey.  As a fourth grader, he had to drop out of school and get a job to help feed his family, but he persevered through hard times.  This 224-page book is geared toward readers ages eight and up and traces the many challenges Hershey overcame to build his wildly successful chocolate company.

A Recipe for Success: Lizzie Kander and Her Cookbook” by Bob Kann

Reading level: Age seven and up

Born in 1858 to German immigrants, Lizzie Kander worked to improve the lives of children and their families, particularly in the Jewish immigrant community in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the process, she published “The Settlement Cookbook” to help young Jewish immigrants cook healthy, "American-style" meals, and she used its proceeds to build the city's first settlement house and Jewish Community Center.  Her cookbook, which is still in print today, proves that food has the power to enrich the lives of individuals and communities alike.

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip” by Gaylia Taylor; Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Reading level: Age seven and up

Growing up with Native-American and African-American heritage in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State in the 1830s, George Crum faced much prejudice.  Author Gaylia Taylor builds his biography around the substantiated facts about Crum's mostly undocumented life.  She credits him with the invention of the potato chip, but the story transcends junk food when he opens his own restaurant, Crum's Place, where all patrons were treated equally.  The rich earth tones of Frank Morrison's illustrations are the most delicious part.