French Toast Reviews

Quill and Quire **Starred Review**

FrenchToast_WebsiteFrench Toast looks as delectable as its title, thanks to François Thisdale’s dreamlike illustrations: the landscapes seem to float in the background as giant loaves of banana bread and juicy peaches appear in the foreground.…Winters obviously knows how to write for children. In this effective picture book, she engages her readers’ imaginations – and their stomachs. She also doesn’t dwell on negativity, but spins the story into one of self-affirmation…Simply told and cleverly imagined, French Toast is a great starting point for talking to young children about race, diversity, and respect.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“When you are blind, you don’t see skin color and you truly know that everyone is the same. Phoebe doesn’t like it when kids from school call ‘Hey, French Toast!’ or tease her for her accent. Her Nan-ma is blind and asks Phoebe to describe the colors of family and friends. Their talk helps Phoebe to look at things in a different light. …Phoebe discovers that Nan-ma doesn’t even know her own skin color until she tells her it is like maple syrup. Suddenly being called French Toast isn’t so bad anymore…”

Resource Links

“…A gentle loving explanation of how everyone has different skin tones expressed in warm delicious ways. Bullying is part of the story but Phoebe’s approach of not letting her bullies know that their nickname bothers her helps to defuse any power they have over her.

The illustrations are beautiful and the illustrator does beautiful portraits of his characters using digital media and acrylic….The author explains the concept of diversity in a positive life affirming way that children and adults will appreciate.”

Thematic Links: Grandmothers; Self-esteem; Bullying; Racially Mixed People; Identity; Diversity; Immigration; Blindness
—Isobel Lang

Read the full review on page 12 of the February 2017 issue of Resource Links

Library of Clean Reads

“Content: G

Even though Nan-ma’s blind, she sees things others do not.’

And so begins this book whose message to be proud of one’s culture and nationality shines through. Phoebe has a good relationship with her grandmother who is blind. On weekends she is her neighborhood guide. As a mother, I liked that this story included a grandma and her wisdom. When Phoebe has to explain why the boys from school yelled out, ‘Hey, French Toast!’ to her, she is embarrassed because she knows it’s because of the color of her skin.

Since her grandmother has never known the colors of skin, she asks Phoebe what color her skin is. So Phoebe describes it like tea after milk is added. And so the story continues….

Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story…It’s a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages. Children need to feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Using food to bring out the beautiful qualities of a culture works well. My son and I were getting hungry reading this book!

The illustrations use earth-tone colors and are soft. They are a mix of digital media and acrylic. What this means is that they are a mix of real-life photos with the drawings. So, the faces of the characters, for example, are actual real photos but blended in with the drawings. My son noticed it right from the first page…I had to look more closely. In the end, we agreed that the way the illustrator blended the two worked well and also the way he highlighted the food and brought it out in the illustrations was unique.

This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are.”
—Laura Fabiani & Son

Click here to read the full review

Getting Kids Reading

French Toast is a delicious treat of a picture book that lets you explore a sophisticated topic in a way that is helpful and positive, but not simplistic….

This is a slow unravelling of racism and bullying and how we see ourselves. A slow unravelling, as only the best picture books can do. French Toast is a meal you will want to go back to, and savour with your child, again and again. You will get something different from it each time you share it.

The illustrations, by François Thisdale, are warm and, while they seem perfectly normal on first glance, are surprisingly, deliciously, quirky (often, for instance, the sizes of things are just a bit — or sometimes a lot — out of scale). Stunning. And the text flows like warm maple syrup. French Toast will warm you up. (Okay, I’m done with the extended food metaphor — plus, now I’m hungry.)…

Disclaimer: I know Kari-Lynn personally. (But that’s definitely not why I wrote this, and I believe it didn’t affect my review. This is a truly stunning picture book that I highly recommend.)”
—Joyce Grant

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: 4.5/5

At school, people make fun of Phoebe for her skin color, which is medium brown, and they call her ‘French toast.’ When she and her grandmother are taking a walk in the park, they walk past her school and the kids yell at her and laugh. Her grandmother doesn’t know why they’re laughing. She is blind, so she can’t understand skin colors. She asks Phoebe to describe her skin color and her family’s. Phoebe finally uses foods to describe the colors. She says her skin is like ‘tea after you’ve added the milk’ and her grandmother’s is like ‘maple syrup poured over…French toast.’ She ends up feeling better in the end because talking about it helps.

When Nan-ma says she has been told her mom is white, Phoebe laughs because white people aren’t really white. All people are just different shades of brown. I like the illustrations because they are mainly different colors of brown, too, and warm colors. The story is set at either sunrise or sunset in winter, which makes it even browner. This book is great for all ages and all colors.”
—Kilian – Age 8

Click here to read more Kids’ BookBuzz reviews

Winnipeg Free Press

“This is a delightful picture book from an Ontario writer that celebrates the joys of diversity….Montreal artist François Tisdale’s illustrations, in warm brown colours of honey and maple syrup, help make this little book delicious.”

Click here to read the full review

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…French Toast starts out as less about the food and more about labelling but Kari-Lynn Winters, with illustrator François Thisdale, turns the story around to be about the goodness of food and relationships that nourish us. Kari-Lynn Winters…impresses with her splendid foray into understanding and acceptance of skin colour, diversity and multiculturalism (Phoebe’s family is Haitian) and one that warms the heart and fills the belly with virtue and affection.

…François Thisdale, whose artwork is a magical blend of drawing and painting with digital imagery, balances the reality of Phoebe and her grandmother’s relationship and emotional situations with a dream-like landscape. His colours and textures fuse so many elements that the book becomes more art than merely a child’s picture book. And then there are the images of glorious food that cultivate nourishment for the soul, inspiring Phoebe and her grandmother, and anyone who reads the book, to see family and skin colour from a fresh perspective.

French toast may not be part of your holiday buffet but French Toast should definitely be on everyone’s bookshelf and story-telling list for the holidays and every day of the year when acceptance is vital i.e., always. It feeds the spirit and bakes up multiple servings of compassion and open-mindedness, helpings we should all scoop out enthusiastically.”

Click here to read the full review

The International Educator

“When you are blind, you don’t see skin color and you truly know that everyone is the same. Phoebe doesn’t like it when kids from school call ‘Hey, French Toast!’ or tease her for her accent. Her Nan-ma is blind and asks Phoebe to describe the colors of family and friends. Their talk helps Phoebe to look at things in a different light. …Phoebe discovers that Nan-ma doesn’t even know her own skin color until she tells her it is like maple syrup. Suddenly being called French Toast isn’t so bad anymore…”

Read the full review on page 40 of the February 2017 issue of The International Educator

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: (1-5, 5 is an excellent or starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? This is a beautiful book about a little girl who is half Jamaican and half French Canadian….The illustrations are wonderful and the descriptions of the food are perfect.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? This is recommended for children ages 4-7. It would be a good addition to a multi-cultural library. Kindergarten children will also enjoy the story read aloud to them. It will stimulate discussion on race.

Who should buy this book? This would be good for elementary school libraries and public libraries that have a children’s section….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes”
Sandra Pacheco ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full review

Omnilibros

“Phoebe, who is half Jamaican and half French-Canadian, hates when her classmates call her ‘French Toast.’…The imaginative artwork blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery using collage, acrylic, watercolor, and computer manipulation.”

Click here to read the full review

Imagination Soup

“Phoebe’s grandmother, Nan-Ma, helps her talk out why the kids call her ‘French Toast’ then helps Phoebe celebrate her own skin tone as well as the variety of skin tones in her Jamaican, French-Canadian family using with beautiful food metaphors. Use this book to talk about differences, similarities, and kindness.”

Click here to read the full list “New Stories for the Readers on Your Lap”

Save