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French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Paperback – International Edition, April 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Humorous as well as instructive, this culinary adventure will change the lives of parents and children alike ... Karen Le billon and her children learn that it's okay to feel hungry between meals, turn to mindful eating, and learn the importance of enjoying one's food. -- Patricia Wells, author of The Provence Cookbook This book is not only about how to teach children (and yourself) to eat well and happily for life, it's a book about how to help build and maintain the foundations of any civilized society. I loved it. Essential reading, whether you have children or not. -- Laura Calder, author of Dinner Chez Moi and host of French Food at Home A wonderful - and important - book. One family's topsy-turvy culinary transformation becomes an in-depth exploration of the habits that have kept French kids loving food (and eating spinach) for centuries. -- Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris

From the Back Cover

Moving her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon expected some cultural adjustment. But she didn't expect to be lectured for slipping her fussing toddler a snack, or to be forbidden from packing her older daughter a school lunch. Karen is intrigued by the fact that French children happily eat everything—from beets to broccoli, from salad to spinach—while French obesity rates are a fraction of what they are in North America.

Karen soon begins to see the wisdom in the "food rules" that the French use to foster healthy eating habits and good manners in babies and children. Some of the rules call into question both our eating habits and our parenting styles. Other rules evoke commonsense habits that we used to share but have somehow forgotten. Taken together, the rules suggest that we need to dramatically rethink the way we feed children, at home and at school.

Combining personal anecdotes with practical tips and appetizing recipes—including Zucchini and Spinach Puree and Bouillabaisse (Fish Soup) for Babies—French Kids Eat Everything is a humorous, provocative look at families, food, and children that is filled with inspiration and advice that every parent can use.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749958510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749958510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,599,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Le Billon is an author, teacher, and proud mom of two daughters. She is married to a Frenchman, and her family divides its time between Vancouver and France. Her kids love spinach puree (honest!).

A Rhodes Scholar with a PhD from Oxford University, Karen currently teaches at the University of British Columbia, where she holds a Canada Research Chair. In 2012 she was named a member of Jamie Oliver Foundation's Real Food Advocates team. She is the author of three previous books, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit Magazine, and on Good Morning America.

She blogs on France, food, and parenting at FrenchKidsEatEverything.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 124 people found the following review helpful By M.C.D. on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our daughter is four, and not a bad eater, but I've noticed that dinner time was increasingly becoming tense time where we cajoled her to eat a certain number of bites, sit properly, all with the bribery of dessert. Since reading Le Billon's book a few weeks ago, we've instituted a strict no snacks rule (which has eliminated pre-dinner carbs), and despite some initial resistance (a temper tantrum about matzah), she's now on board. To reduce whining about snacking, we started role playing.

F: "Can I have a snack?"
me: "No."
F: "Why not?"
me: "Because we're saving our appetite for dinner."

She liked it so much she wanted to repeat it five times. Then we switched parts and she got to be the mommy and say "No!" This makes it a game for her, and also helps her know what to expect.

It's striking to me how much I had imbibed the American snack attitude - that to be a good parent, I must have snacks at all time so my kid doesn't go hungry. It's been empowering, both for myself and as a parent to accept that it's okay to be hungry between meals.

Since we were already eating "French" in that we cook from scratch and eat dinner together every night, the other big change has been the rule that we try everything, and it's been amazing to see what F. will try now that she's really hungry at meal times. I'm no longer making mainly foods that F. will like, but thinking about expanding her palate and knowing that she'll try whatever we make. It's a sea change! We recently had our second child, and I'm looking forward to starting him a la francaise on vegetable purees.

A huge message of your book is if we raise our expectations for what our kids can handle, in eating and social behavior, they will surprise us by meeting the challenge. I wish everyone with young kids could read this book.
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219 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Brynnlux TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book and I loved it. I bought this after finishing 'Bringing Up Bebe', and I wanted more tips on how to get my child to enjoy more foods. I also wanted to change my own food habits, so this was perfect for me. I hate how I eat and I hate how the way my family eats has affected their health negatively. I am still young and in good health and I want it to stay that way. I don't enjoy eating and food much, because I like to eat and just move on to the next thing as fast as possible. I now realize that by taking my time to eat and to cook healthy meals, I can de-stress and enjoy my life more. Slowing down to enjoy food and family is just what I needed.

I am sure that a lot of people (especially Americans) will probably not give this book as good a review as it deserves, because there are a couple of parts in the book that pretty much say that everything about the way Americans eat (as well as some other Europeans and Canada) is so very wrong. I am inclined to agree 100%, because if nothing was wrong with how Americans eat then our childhood obesity rate wouldn't be what it is. But I can see how some people might be ready to get all upset about somebody telling them that their eating habits are wrong. So unless you want to and are willing to make a big change in your eating habits for the sake of your child, don't bother reading this book. It is the slap in the face that I needed and what I think America needs, but is too lazy and complacent to accept.

So far my family and I have begun changing our lifestyles, little by little, to follow the 'rules' in the book. It has been amazing. We have had several meals 'the French way' and we have enjoyed them immensely.
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125 of 142 people found the following review helpful By toast2taste on April 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After a decade of French and France bashing, the pendulum seems to be swinging in the other direction with a range of new books extolling the magic of the French art de vivre. After Pamela Druckerman's coquettish "I'm not even sure I like it here" but nonetheless rose-tinted view of life in France (read, Paris), it's refreshing to read Karen Bakker Le Billon's earnest attempt to understand the French way of educating bébé at the table. While Druckerman bears and rears her children in Paris and in a French cultural context from conception, Le Billon moves with her French husband and two small children, ages two and six at the time, from the ultra-permissive, child-centered food culture of North America (Vancouver, to be exact) to the authoritarian and comparatively rigid environment of Brittany.

The Le Billon grandparents are horrified by the manners and eating habits of their Franco-Canadian grandchildren. From their French family's perspective the children eat constantly, at inappropriate times and places, and with so sense of etiquette - n'importe quoi, n'importe quand et n'importe comment. Le Billon is not happy with her daughters' poor eating habits and limited culinary range, but feels powerless to change them until she realizes that behavior tolerated at home is unacceptable in France and could pose a significant impediment to her children's social acceptance.
With the rational mind and experimental rigor of her academic background, she sets out to identify aspects of French food culture that will help her educate her own children on healthy eating and good manners. What makes the book interesting is that Le Billon is not herself in love with the French way of life and she is not a foodie by a long shot.
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