The Boy Who Wanted to Cook

La Bonne Vache (The Good Cow) is a little restaurant in the south of France. It takes its name from and is famous for its boeuf à la mode, a delicious beef stew. Ten-year-old Pierre longs to follow in the culinary footsteps of his father, Monsieur Valcourt. Monsieur Valcourt is the chef and owner of La Bonne Vache. Pierre spends as much time as possible in the restaurant's kitchen, hoping for a chance to demonstrate his cooking skills. But his parents shoo him away and he is not allowed to cook. One day Pierre meets a visitor who is on his way to eat at the restaurant. This is no ordinary visitor but an important food critic. His experience at La Bonne Vache could bring great honor to the restaurant. At last, Pierre sees his chance to prove himself. Award-winning author Gloria Whelan received the National Book Award for her young adult novel, Homeless Bird. Her books with Sleeping Bear Press include The Listeners, Friend on Freedom River, and Jam and Jelly with Holly and Nellie. She lives in Michigan.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$16.95 $16.95
$28.95 $28.95
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level
Dewey E
ATOS Reading Level 5.0
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585365340), PDF (9781410308207), Hosted ebook (9781627534680)
Copyright 2012, 2014
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations

A Review of The Boy Who Wanted to Cook

Pierre longs to be a chef. His parents own a restaurant, but he lives and breathes food. As he travels through the countryside, he notices how many foods come from local supplies. One day a visitor asks directions to his parents restaurant. Pierre has noticed that the man is an inspector, come to see if the restaurant is worthy of earning a coveted star, but he is too honorable to reveal this to his parents. Instead he helps his family collect the ingredients for the dinner. It is during this all-important meal that Pierre gets his chance. While his father attends to the guests up front, there is no one but Pierre to watch the meal. Will his innovations destroy his parents hopes or will they be the secret to success?

The Boy Who Wanted to Cook is peppered with French words and phrases. Most are easily deciphered from context, but there is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the back for those who might struggle with them. It really captures the feeling of a French country restaurant and the importance of fresh ingredients. I also appreciated the message of making the honorable choice and earning your accolades rather than just expecting them. Definitely a good choice for budding francophiles.

A Review of "The Boy Who Wanted to Cook" in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

This wonderful book is sure to delight young boys and girls who are interested in cooking. The story follows a ten-year-old boy named Pierre whose family runs a little restaurant in France. Although Pierre is interested in cooking, his parents discourage his involvement in the family business. One day he is given the opportunity to help his family and the restaurant in a meaningful way.

The illustrations in the book are just lovely and bring the restaurant and the townspeople to life.

Children like to know they are involved in their families and can contribute in important ways. My eight-year-old son will certainly enjoy the story when he receives the book for Christmas. I think I’m going to plan a few cooking adventures with him before then.

The Boy Who Wanted to Cook - Teaching Guide

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Author: Gloria Whelan

Gloria Whelan is a poet and the award-winning author of many children's books including Homeless Bird, for which she received the National Book Award. The Listeners is her third title in the Tales of Young Americans series. Her other picture books with Sleeping Bear Press include Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers (2008 Society of Illustrators Gold Medal winner); Yatandou (a Junior Library Guild selection); and Friend on Freedom River (a Jefferson Cup honor book). Ms. Whelan lives near Lake St. Clair in Michigan where you can often find her out walking.

Illustrator: Steve Adams

Steve Adams's children's books include The Boy Who Grew Flowers and Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan. His work has been honored with acceptance in the Society of Illustrators' juried shows. Steve lives in Montreal.

Full-color illustrations