Nonfiction Monday: Extra Cheese, Please! - Cris Peterson

Extra Cheese, Please!

by Cris Peterson, photos by Alvis Upitis

Ages 4-8

32 pages

Boyds Mills Press, 1994

It's Nonfiction Monday (see the roundup this week at Great Kid Books) and I have another book about cows!  (My school is planning to buy a cow to support Heifer International during this year's March is Reading Month (MIRM), so I checked out all the books on cows and milk we had in our public library. You'll see several of these reviews come up over the next few weeks.)

Cris Peterson, the author of eight books on farming and agriculture for children, is a full time dairy farmer in Wisconsin.  She is also the author of Huckleberry Bookshelf, a syndicated weekly column on children's literature.  She and photographer Alvis Upitis have created this excellent nonfiction book on how milk is made into mozzarella cheese.  Peterson won the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Children's Literature Award for Extra Cheese, Please! as well as for four other of her books.

When Cris Peterson's cow Annabelle gives birth to a calf, an amazing process begins. Now Annabelle can produce milk--about 40,000 glasses of milk each year, or enough cheese to top 1,800 pizzas. Alvis Upitis's sparkling photographs document the cheese-making process--starting on the farm where Annabelle's calf is born and milking begins, then moving to the cheese-making plant where the milk is heated and cooled, stirred and swirled, thickened, drained, and sliced--and finally packaged for stores. Cris Peterson's personal and informative text explains the process in a simple and engaging manner. Mr. Uptits's photographs capture moments on the farm with the cows and the calves and reveal an inside view of the cheese-making process. A wonderful collaboration, concluding with the author's own recipe for pizza.
The writing is about as technical as in Aliki's book on milk, which is to say perfectly accessible to younger readers, but complicated enough to satisfy students who appreciate technology.  The text is peppered with fun similes ("The bricks of cheese float like overgrown building blocks in a bathtub.") that make it easy for students to visualize the process.  Because it's illustrated with photographs, this will be a good compliment to Aliki's book, too. 

Oh, and I was hoping for instructions on how to make cheese, but instead there's a pizza recipe.  Perhaps I'll try it and bring in the results for students to taste!  (Too bad we had to take out the kitchen to install the book room...)

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