7 Delicious Books Of Ice Cream
Perfect melty reads for hot summer days
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that if there is ice cream to be had, then surely the vendor of said ice cream is a child’s favorite person. The picture above is of kulfi, a South Asian ice cream dating back to the 1500s, and many a desi (South Asian) person has a fond memory, steeped in nostalgia, of the thrill of hearing the kulfi wallah (vendor) shouting out his approach.
I have those memories too but my favorite is one summer, many, many moons ago, when my grandfather promised his grandkids (around 5 of us at the time) that we would make kulfi together. It was a blisteringly hot summer day and there was nothing as exciting as making our very own kulfi. We watched as my grandfather prepared the base, allowing each of us to help add the spices that make kulfi so marvelously delicious. Each of us clamored, pushing in front of each other, to let us help him pour the mixture into the cone molds and we were chastised sternly if we were too forceful. And then came that agonizing, never-ending wait for it to set. Each of us would take turns after what seemed like hours running up to my grandfather and asking him if the kulfi was ready. As his patience got thinner and thinner, we’d recruit the cutest or youngest amongst us to go and ask him. When the moment finally came, I can still see us crouching around my grandfather, talking excitedly, as we watched him loosen the kulfi we had been waiting so impatiently for. We sat on the verandah, our legs swinging over the edge, happily chatting and licking and slurping our kulfi, cheering each other when we caught the dribbles that escaped past our wrists. It’s a memory that has a golden halo around it and always puts a smile on my face.
There’s nothing as magical as an ice cream memory. What’s yours?
For the love of ice cream…
Wemberly’s Ice-Cream Star
Written and Illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Recommended Ages: 0-3 years
This simple story begins when Wemberly is given a delicious, ice cream star. She can’t imagine not sharing with her beloved stuffed toy, Petal. So Wemberly does her best to share her frozen treat with her friend. This story at its heart is one about kindness and caring. Wemberly goes through great trouble to make sure Petal can participate as well. A lovely lesson for the toddler who’s just starting to become more aware of the people around them.
Isaac The Ice Cream Truck
Written and Illustrated by Scott Santoro
Recommended Ages: 4-6 years
Isaac the ice cream truck loves cruising all around town with his friend Paul at the wheel. He’s developed a fondness for the people that buy his ice cream. But he can’t help shaking the feeling that there are bigger trucks out there doing more important work. But then a fire happens and when Isaac gets caught in the hubbub, he’s forced to rethink his purpose and role as a truck. The soft pencil artwork is drool-worthy and the stuff of my 5-year-old-aspiring-pencil-artist dreams. This book is great for kids who love all things trucks!
Printed in the 90s, this is one to look for at your local library!
For the real scoop…
Ice Cream: The Full Scoop
Written and Illustrated by Gail Gibbons
Recommended Ages: 4-8 years
No one can explain something quite as well as Gail Gibbons. The author and illustrator is famous for her books where she helps kids understand different topics with clear, simple language and endearing illustrations. Honestly, even an adult might want to grab a copy of one of her books to understand how a house is built or where snow comes from. This book is a delightful behind-the-scenes of the origins of ice cream (there’s even a reference to how ice blocks were harvested from ponds—like the story of Of Walden Pond which I recommended in my Henry David Thoreau post) and how it’s become one of kids’ favorite treats. The illustrations do a lovely job of simplifying the equipment and making it more palatable to young readers. I especially loved that, in the latter pages, readers are essentially a part of a group tour as a tour guide conducts a tour through an ice cream factory. There’s even a primer on all the different types of ice cream treats (ice cream bar, ice cream cone, etc.)! This is perfect for the ice cream lover who likes to know the why and how of things.
The Sweetest Scoop: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Revolution
Written by Lisa Robinson | Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Recommended Ages: 6-10 years
This book will keep you transfixed and drooling as it walks you through how Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield made—wait for it—Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. With ice cream puns for the little ones and a gripping, entrepreneurial tale complete with thrills (I, for one, had no idea they took on Pillsbury!) for the older kids, this is sure to be a hit. The groovy watercolor illustrations are a perfect reflection of Ben & Jerry’s ethos and style. This is perfect for the budding entrepreneur or any kid who loves Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! I recommend grabbing Ben & Jerry’s single-serve cups for you and the kids to devour as you read.
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For the international flavors…
Written by Lucky Diaz | Illustrated by Micah Player
Recommended Ages: 3-7 years
This is a sweet tribute to the frozen Mexican treat and the joy of getting a paleta. If you’re unfamiliar, paletas are, at their most basic definition, an ice pop or lolly. But paletas are so much more than popsicles—they are renowned for their bright, vibrantly fruity, and herbal flavors and come in a variety of forms, some retaining chunky pieces of fruits, others filled with another flavor. For Mexican and Latin Americans, the paleta is a nostalgic experience. One that’s captured so well in Lucky Diaz’s Paletero Man. A young boy from Los Angeles is excited to find Paletero Jose, his friend who provides the neighborhood with paletas. As the young boy makes his way throughout the neighborhood, he calls out to his diverse set of friends and neighbors as he races past them on his hunt for Paletero Jose. This book is not only a love letter to all the kids who love paletas but to anyone who has lived in LA (it certainly transported me back!). The ebullient illustrations are a beautiful representation of the diversity and the roots of Mexican culture behind the (now widespread) paleta.
Saffron Ice Cream
Written and Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
Recommended Ages: 4-8 years
A beautiful homage to her past and present, Rashin is a new immigrant in New York City, who can’t help but compare her beach trips in her native Iran to her very first beach trip in the US to Coney Island. We get to see what it was like for her family to make the drive out to the beach in Iran, how they enjoyed the beach (separately—women on one side, and men on the other), and how Rashin frolicked with friends. This may go over some readers’ heads, but you can also see why Rashin and her family may have left; at the beach, the morality police governs. Rashin braves all the differences between her old home and new one but, when she goes to get ice cream and realizes her favorite saffron ice cream isn’t an option, she can’t help but cave in and cry at all the differences and wonder if things will ever feel right again. The vibrant colors paint a beautiful picture of Iran and NYC; it’s a visual delight to see the two showcased side-by-side. I loved this book for not only introducing readers to a unique (and heavenly!) flavor of ice cream but also what it means when your favorite, comfort dessert deserts (couldn’t help myself) you in an alien land.
Cooler Than Lemonade
Written by Harshita Jerath | Illustrated by Chloe Burgett
Recommended Ages: 4-8 years
When Eva and her brother, Aru, start a lemonade stand in the scorching heat of summer, she knows she has a winning idea. So she isn’t exactly thrilled when her neighbor across the street, Jake, starts his own. The competition between the two grows fierce and Eva despairs how she’ll outwit Jake. Just as she’s about to give up, a new idea strikes… one that she knows Jake can’t compete with her on: kulfi. Kulfi, the South Asian “ice cream”, is a melange of cream, cardamom, and other flavorings and Eva knows that it will be a hit. This one made me reach into my freezer and pull out my mini-sized kulfi and I got a nice little buzz of brain freeze. This book, with its beautifully engaging illustrations (lots of little details that you’ll discover with every reread), is perfect for the budding entrepreneur. It does a beautiful job of capturing the excitement of something new, the fun escalation between the neighbors, and the challenges of running a business.
Surely all this ice cream goodness has inspired you to make some of your own. I leave you with this ice cream recipe book if you want to try your hand at making ice cream yourself. This is perfect for being minimal fuss with easy-to-find, simple ingredients, and it’s a lot of fun for kids. It comes together quickly (unfortunately, still requires patience for it to set) and tastes delicious.
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