'The World in Your Lunch Box' is a recipe for fun.

Mom says you're getting to be a "big-enough" kid.

This summer she says you're big enough to start making the family's lunches. She says you need to learn how to cook and make meals - and that does not mean PB&J every day, either.

You learned a little about food in school but since you want to do a good job with this new chore, you want to learn more. So why not grab "The World in Your Lunch Box" by Claire Eamer, artwork by Sa Boothroyd?

You know how much you hate the same old boring lunch. That's why you're determined to make something really great for everyone else.

"Food doesn't have to be fancy to be interesting," says Claire Eamer. Almost everything you eat includes a story that's historical, scientific or just plain weird.

Take, for instance, the sandwich.

Back in the 1700s, there was an Earl who loved to gamble. He once gambled for 24 hours straight and when he got hungry, he asked for some slices of beef between pieces of bread. He was The Earl of Sandwich.

The Earl was lucky, though. Once upon a time, poor people in Europe couldn't afford ingredients to make bread. Their main meal was a kind of stew known as pottage, made from whatever could be thrown into a pot: some beans or a little pork, maybe onions, vegetables or wild root. Mostly, though, pottage was made of barley and if you were a medieval peasant kid, you could count on eating it for every meal, every day.

There was a time in Europe when potatoes were the main food for poor people and prisoners because taters were cheap and easy to grow. But when a French army officer who'd been a prisoner in Germany returned home, he brought potatoes to King Louis XVI. The royal family loved potatoes so much that Marie Antoinette used potato flowers to decorate one of her gowns.

Tomatoes were once thought to be poisonous. Watermelons are 90 percent water and are sometimes used as canteens on desert journeys. Hot dogs were once made of "mystery meat" that was swept off the floor. And if you live in parts of Australia, you'd better be hungry. You just might find your plate filled with grubs!

So you've got a growing gourmand in the house? Think you're raising the next Food Network superstar? Then make mealtime even better with "The World in Your Lunch Box."

Starting with the humble sandwich, the author takes kids on an around-the-world and through-the-centuries tour of the foods they love to eat (and a few they might think are icky). Blend Eamer's stories together gently with history and science, stir in artwork by Boothroyd, serve it on an otherwise boring summer afternoon, and this book becomes a treat kids will relish.

I think budding young foodies and adults who love to eat will want to bite into it soon, in fact. For the 7- to 12-year-old who's epi-curious, "The World in Your Lunch Box" is a recipe for fun.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer's children's book reviews weekly.


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