Tania McCartney – Plume global nibbler

Hardie Grant, Australia, 2022
Design Jo Hunt, Tania McCartney

The second in the Plume series is an exploration of the joys of foods and food culture around the world. As with her other work, Tania McCartney has demonstrated an understanding of how young children think and behave, whilst creating a book which adults will also enjoy.

She has astutely championed her inquisitive penguin, Plume’s ‘difference’ whilst mirroring the reactions of children we may know when offered new tastes without an accompanying orientation or experience – ‘too sweet! too spicy! too salty! too onionly!’

Hence our little explorer goes in search of cooking lessons, giving him the opportunity to travel and learn from experts and people at the source, thus absorbing the surrounding culture of national foods.

A regard for language is a sparkling aspect of this author’s work. As well as using the native tongues of countries visited, she has peppered her story with grown up vocabulary – for how else do children learn these wonderful English words? –  scrumptiousness, tongue-tingling, gastronomic, zesty, delectable, seasoning, mission accomplished. There’s a sprinkling of onomatopoeia as well, always a winner with little listeners – Slap! Squelch! Clatter!

A keen traveller herself and one who has lived with her children in a few other countries, the author brings us a sense of that delight, of the value of daring to try strange new things, whether this be food, language, places or people.

Her illustrations are awash with bright colours and details, a veritable feast for post and during reading discussion and learning.

Every page is worthy of lingering time to make sure no detail is missed, right down to Plume’s ordering his fridge refill on his tablet.

The endpapers are, usefully, a world map and so adults will be able to share the locations of Plume’s food journeys with their children. No doubt, the book will inspire some new home cooking and perhaps some travel plans for families now that borders are easing and flights becoming available.

We’ll await with interest the next Plume adventure. 

Thank you to Hardie Grant for my review copy.