If giving books is part of your holiday tradition, here’s one for the board book crowd that you might want to consider wrapping up this year. “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen” by Diana Prichard is a gentle introduction for kids about where food really comes from.

Prichard is a farmer, and she’s written a cute story about Patrick, who comes down for breakfast one morning to find a cow in his kitchen. His father is making French toast, and Patrick is asked to get the milk, eggs and syrup. Instead of those items being readily available for Patrick to grab from the refrigerator, he learns he needs to go straight to the source — a cow, a hen, and a maple tree — to get the ingredients.

While reading the book, I thought it was a nice way to help younger children understand that food originates from plants and animals, but it struck me that there was no meat in this breakfast. The last page of the book does lightly address the meat subject when Patrick walks down the stairs the next morning to find a pig in his kitchen and the smell of bacon.

On its own, the book is fun and kids will like the illustrations done by Heather Devlin Knopf, the animal noises, and the surprises of finding hens in the refrigerator and trees growing in the kitchen.

Parents and educators can use the book as a stepping off point to begin deeper discussions about where food comes from, what farmers do, and planning meals from real ingredients, not from processed foods. The notes that came with my review copy of the book said that lesson plans to be used with the book will be coming soon, making this a good choice for a holiday gift for a teacher who teaches in the younger grades.

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