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on May 28, 2010
I have been making bento lunches for myself & daughter for two years, and became a fan of Adventures in Bento Making blog during this time. So, when I heard Pikko was co-authoring a bento book, I was thrilled. Yum-Yum Bento Box is full of instructions, recipes and tips on how to make these fun, colorful and healthy meals. One of the best features is that most of the ingredients used are readily available, even in my small rural town.

The book has a brief introduction to bento, guidelines on how to pack a healthy bento lunch, and a section on boxes, accessories and tools. Also included is a helpful shopping guide and glossary at the end of the book. The pictures are a delight to the eye and demo photos make it easy to reproduce these adorable characters. I definitely recommend Yum-Yum Bento Box to anyone interested in learning to making bento lunches
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on February 5, 2011
As someone who's always been interested in not only preparing delicious and healthy meals but also presenting them beautifully, I was delighted to come across the idea of obento. I'm so looking forward to trying these ideas out for my little girl!

The book is very informative about the concept of "eating with your eyes" before you eat your meal, and also discusses the proportional nutrition of veg to starch to protein to fruit/sweets that is aimed for in the bento lunch concept. The sample pictures are oh-my-goodness adorable and extremely creative and instructions for each idea, as well as where to find extra materials (egg shapers, food picks, etc.) and cheaper but serviceable alternatives (hole punches, toothpicks, etc.) are clearly written. All concepts are defined and all recipes are clearly written - these ideas will take a bit of time to prepare, but are not at a difficulty level to make them something most people couldn't take on.

Personally I think this book will be just for ideas and instruction. The recipes were small portions (not practical in my household) and all but a few included meat (also not happening in my household). No big deal because they didn't write it to be a family-sized meal or vegetarian cookbook so I can't fault them for either. Just mentioning it as a heads-up to others who might be in the same situation (vegetarian and/or too busy to cook a tiny separate meal instead of simply including a portion of the whole family's larger meal).

The only critique I have of the book is one that another reviewer mentioned and that is the repetitiveness. For as adorable as the obento features in each recipe are, all are made of either egg, rice, lunch meat, hot dogs, or sliced cheese. Most of the facial features are made of nori. Again, I like the overall concepts and instructions but especially for a book that is supposedly super health-concsious, I was surprised at overprocessed foods being such staple ingredients and for my own creations plan to improvise with lower salt, nitrate, food coloring, and fat content items. There were some tiny decorative veg garnishes, but there weren't any recipes that didn't use the above mentioned items as the main part. The eggs & rice are healthy things, I just note them because it seemed like a repetitive use of ingredients, but even so was also glad to see a variety of options for shaping and presentation.

I love reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in getting the basics of really cute obento theory and presentation.
11 comment54 of 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 29, 2010
As a public school teacher, it's easy to see how kids are not at all enthused about eating their meals, or being picky about veggies. You would too, if you were faced with bland, colorless, unappetizing fare on a daily basis (no offense meant to our hardworking cafeteria staff, I'm perfectly aware it's hard to cook for hundreds of kids with different tastes on a certain budget everyday!). However, if their parents used a resource book like this to create nutritious meals for them, chances are very high that these aforementioned problems will go away. Love is in the making, and there's hard evidence to eat! Yum!

As an Asian, it seems to me that bento is one of the super kid-friendly meals we have. I remember growing up using bento boxes as baon and eating every single grain of rice! Too bad the characters - if there were any - weren't as cute as the ones in this book, but at least I'll have ideas for my kids. It's so easy, we can make these when my students have a lesson that involves cooking & nutrition! They actually had a taste of it when we had a hanami by the Tidal Basin this past Cherry Blossom Festival - and even those that professed a dislike for veggies ate the cucumber pickles!

This book allows people who are first-time bento makers to have an idea of how easy it can be to make, given easy-to-follow instructions and colorful graphics that enable one to see the finished product. The only problem is, having to give it away before you eat all of the kawaii food you just made.

There aren't too many English bento books that are this clear and "idiot"-proof. It even gives you a time frame so you can work it into your busy schedule. Try it, you'll like it!

Below is my comment for Ms. Negative Reviewer, in case you don't get to read it. To think that the authors she mentioned are close friends of Maki-sensei and even recommend this book - why would they do that if they were copied, right?

* I would think that kyaraben & oekakiben aren't copyrighted - even those authors mentioned by Ms. Negative Reviewer may not even have had the most original designs - and if a book is useful and allows English speakers to access making kawaii bento better, it should have a place on any bento fan's bookshelf. Now that I've read this review and comments, I'm buying this book (good thing the store is within walking distance) as well as recommend it to others, so no fear, Maki-sensei! <3
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on July 6, 2012
I have a picky five year old, and I started making bento boxes for her lunches in order to inspire her to try new things and have her venture away from the ham and mustard sandwich her dad had been packing her every day for months. It really did work!
I purchased this cookbook as a source of new ideas, but didn't find much inspiration. I was looking for a bit of healthy variety for my munchkin, and this was pretty lacking. Most of the recipes are based around white rice and processed meat. Not a great deal in the veggie or fruit department. My advice? Save the money and search the net - there are a lot of better options out there, both in ingredient choice and themes.
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on June 30, 2012
This is a beautifully photographed and presented book. However, the "recipes" rely primarily on unhealthy ingredients such as processed bologna, salami, american cheese slices and white bread. The "formed" pieces are made from white rice, colored with natural ingredients in general. The recipes are repetitive--basically the same ingredients re-worked into cute little characters. This book was clearly written for the American market (one of the only Asian ingredients used is nori (seaweed)), otherwise it's just a cutesy version of typical American fare.
33 comments44 of 54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 12, 2010
My daugher bought a Panda Bear Bento Box recently to make her own lunch to school. Rice balls with meat inserts. She's 15. She loves all the cute pictures and ideas from the book. Great for anyone who has the time and artistic in mind.
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on March 27, 2011
I'm a regular visitor to Pikko's site (Watanabe), but I hadn't visited Maki's before.

This book is based toward kids, but even I don't mind a little kawaii in my lunch occasionally.

What I liked:
- nice introduction to bento at the beginning if you're new to the world
- very colorful and bright pictures and sturdy pages
- their "food pyramid": 4 parts veg, 3 parts protein, 2 parts carbs, 1 part fruit/dessert. Yay for healthy!
- each bento has several recipes with it, and they're all easy to mix-and-match
- while this is a charaben book (character bento), none of the ideas are too complicated (usually involve some cutting and/or punching)-- all the ideas seem very feasible!

What I didn't like:
- there's no index. I remembered seeing a bento that included macaroni and cheese, went to the back to look it up, but nope, no index. And, when food is sometimes disguised, it makes flipping back through challenging.
- yes, that's all!

While I haven't put together any of the recipes/bento yet, I do have a few planned... visit my blog at [...]! I never was interested in charaben until I looked at this book, actually; while I enjoy looking at photos of others' charaben, I never had much of a desire to put cute faces on food... until now! Too bad I don't have any face punches!
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on November 29, 2010
I'm kind of shocked that there would be any negative reviews for this book; it's adorable with some complicated recipes, but a lot of very easy ones. Plus, it's very easy to use some of the ideas with substitute foods. For once, my picky child is eating all the food on her plate without a complaint. Crazy. Anyway, this stuff is also fun to make. Love it.
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on November 29, 2010
I absolutely love this book! My children are a little older, 14 and 11,but they hate cafeteria lunches. Personally, I hate paying for them when they don't get eaten. This book has given me ideas, great ideas, that I have taken and used to create fun lunches for both of them. The best part is that the kids get in to it with me. We make their lunches together. Anyone who has teens knows how rare it is for them to want to do something with their parents. My daughter (14) thinks this is the greatest thing ever, and my son (11) has come up with some fantastic ideas of his own. My hat is off to the authors! Thanks for helping us come together over making a nutritious lunch!
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on August 8, 2011
I have a half-dozen bento box cookbooks and the layout on this one is one of my favorites. The left side has a full page color photo of the finished bento under the title and time to make (neat feature). The right side has all the directions for making each item, as well as any suggestions for changing the recipe a bit, small pics to go along with how to assemble,and general ideas and comments.

The front has several pages on things you can use to decorate your bento and I appreciate the reminder that specialty items aren't always needed.
There are 2 pages on the faces with small pics of different things you can use for each part (i.e. heads - rice ball, hamburger bun, hard boiled eggs, omelette) on the first page and the second page is divided by ingredient such as veggie or sesame seeds, and have pics showing various ways to use them in your box (i.e. veggies- "Corn kernals make cute noses, beaks or flowers; lettuce keeps different foods seperated; broccoli and cherry tomatoes are a pretty way to fill up a bento box." with pics of a corn beak, corn and pea flower, carrot star cutouts on broccoli trees, and small corn on cob and broccoli floret as sides and "fillers".

It also includes a few extra recipes at back with a (wonderful) shopping guide for those who are new to bento and want to know some places to look to find the items you see here and in other cookbooks and blogs. There is also a metric conversion chart for those needing it. A page for common terms that you may be learning or not familiar with yet is also provided!

If you're looking for a bentobook with ideas that are easy, don't take too long and kid friendly then I recommend this. It IS adorable, so if you want meals that don't use characters and try to be cute then you might look at another book. I feel the price I paid was worth it as it has an easy-to-use layout with large color pictures of each bento plus the help pages in the book on bentos, accessories, and terms. Definately recommend and worth 5 stars for me.
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