THE FANTASTIC RECIPE MACHINE
by Chihiro Takeuchi – Berbay Publishing, 2017
ages 2 to 8 years / picture books + imagination
Sometimes a book with joyful pictures that takes just a few minutes to read can take on extra meaning when read in light of world events. The Fantastic Recipe Machine is like that.
It’s about little robots in a factory, turning out unexpected results from funny mixes of ingredients like:
“Yarn and cookies.
Brooms and oranges.
Cute little brushes.
What will they make?
They make lions!”
It’s all heaps of fun but, at the end, the little robots make ‘my sister’ and ‘me’ using the same factory but different ingredients. And suddenly it’s a book about valuing diversity. As ever, the world needs plenty of that.
I love this book and here are a few reasons:
Those pictures!—they’re graphic, cheerful and modern—this is one hip factory!
The quirkiness of the ingredient lists—after all, we’re all a product of some pretty quirky life experiences aren't we?
It works like an I Spy book—some pretty serious eye work and imagination is needed to find the ingredients in the finished product. (That sort of careful searching is great for pre-readers to exercise their eyes.)
A small reading hint:
I’m a big fan of reading a book through without too much discussion—usually. For The Fantastic Recipe Machine, I’d recommend ditching that idea and stopping at the end of each ingredient list to imagine what could be made. As well as being fun to think like that, it also leads to the ‘of course!’ moment when the page is turned to reveal what the little robots made.
Some of my family had a funny discussion about whether it’s metaphorically the ingredients or the recipe that makes people different. The book goes with:
“Same Recipe. Different ingredients.”
I’m still not sure.