Thursday, April 13, 2023

Chef Edna - a review, 4.13.23

Take one look at the cover of this book and you'll know what you are in for.  Clearly we see a picture of Chef Edna and look where her hands are placed - one at her stomach and one at her heart.  In between the two is a large family gathered around a table enjoying a meal together.  We already know we are going to celebrate great food and how it brings us together!

Chef Edna by Melvina Noel
Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis
written by Melvina Noel
illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
published by Cameron Kids

This picture book biography celebrates Chef Edna Lewis.  She grew up in a town that was founded by her grandfather and his friends shortly after they won their emancipation from slavery.  Edna grew up with family all around her and they all worked together growing their food and animals on their farm.  Edna learned all of her cooking secrets from her mother - from baking the best biscuits to how to know when a cake is done cooking.  Edna ventured from home to New York City where she worked many jobs, eventually working her way up to being an executive chef.  Edna went back and forth from NYC to her hometown of Freetown, but her cooking became so popular, she honed her craft in NYC.  
I fell into Edna's story as soon as I sat down to read.  Author Melvina Noel has beautifully crafted a story that instantly makes the reader want to meet Chef Edna, mostly to try her delicious food!  My mouth was watering the entire time I was reading!  Beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Honoree, Cozbi A. Cabrera, I think this may be her best work, yet!  The vibrant colors made the food illustrations pop and the reader will really want to dive in for some good food!
This picture book is a must have for your collection!  In the backmatter, author Melvina Noel says, "while researching lesser-known African Americans who have had a positive impact on society, I learned about Edna."  This book spotlights an amazing African American and the joy she has brought to so many people through her spirit and talent.  This is a perfect American to spotlight when reading picture book biographies!
Be sure to take the time and appreciate the book jacket, endpages, and front/back cover.  The artwork is stunning!
Today would have been Edna's 107th birthday!  Happy Birthday, Edna!  We'll have a slice of cake in your honor.
Be sure to find this book on its book birthday, Tuesday, April 18th.

Meet the author and illustrator:

Melvina Noel loves to write and to bake cakes. Thanks to Edna, she listens to her cakes to tell her when they are done.  Chef Edna is the debut picture book for Melvina Noel, a Virginian like Edna Lewis.

Instagram: @melvinawrite4you

Cozbi Cabrera is an award-winning illustrator whose gorgeous books-including Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Abrams-have garnered a Coretta Scott King Honor as well as a Caldecott Honor for illustration. She lives in Illinois. Visit her website:

On Instagram and Twitter: @cozbi

Publisher info:

Website: Cameron Kids

Instagram: @cameron_kids

Facebook: Cameron Kids

Thank you to Barbara for sending the review copy!

Instagram: @blue_slip_media

Facebook: Blue Slip Media

Would you like to win a copy of Chef Edna?  Publisher Cameron Kids has donated a copy to giveaway to a blog reader (US addresses only)!  Winner will be selected on April 20th.

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