13.1 C
Friday, September 22, 2023
Books'Can I Play with My Food?': Memphis food scientist says 'Yes!' in...

‘Can I Play with My Food?’: Memphis food scientist says ‘Yes!’ in new children’s book

DISCLAIMER: Information and opinions reproduced in the articles are the ones of those stating them and it is their own responsibility. Publication in The European Times does not automatically means endorsement of the view, but the right to express it.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATIONS: All articles in this site are published in English. The translated versions are done through an automated process known as neural translations. If in doubt, always refer to the original article. Thank you for understanding.

More from the author

“Where does food come from?” This simple question is the premise behind “Can I Play with My Food?”, a new children’s book by Memphian and first-time author Ali Manning.

The early-reader picture book explores food and science through the eyes of two sisters, Nema and Lexi.

Nema and Lexi let their imaginations run wild as they discover where food comes from and how a simple experiment can shape their dreams.

“My mission has been to show children that Black scientists exist and to expose them to the world of food science,” Manning said. “Additionally, I want folks to remember the importance of acceptance and that we are all capable of achieving our dreams with community, access and support.”

Manning is a food scientist and owner of Umami Food Consulting. With more than 10 years in the food industry, she uses her passion for food, science and community to help food entrepreneurs tackle the issues beyond the kitchen. As a food scientist, she helps clients with product development, focusing on issues ranging from flavor profiles to making a food shelf stable. She also helps companies accurately report nutrition facts on their product labels. 

Along with managing her clients, Manning is the program consultant for Project Green Fork, an initiative that helps restaurants reduce their environmental impact, and the creator of Food Science 4 Kids, a program that teaches grade-school children food science basics and allows them to perform fun experiments virtually or in-person.

“Can I Play with My Food?” was birthed by her desire to find joy in childlike things.

“This book started from my desire to rediscover things that brought me joy,” Manning said. “As a child, I loved creative arts (drawing, singing and poetry), but somewhere along the way, I had forgotten.”

MEMPHIS WRITERS: From law books to joke books: Attorney Joe Leibovich is a standup comic and author

MALICE IN MEMPHIS: This ‘Killer Writing Club’ specializes in murder and mayhem

She calls the book her “passion project.” The idea to write a book started as a personal hobby, but eventually became a reality when she decided to self-publish. Illustrator Taylor Bou brought her story to life with his artwork.

Manning said this book is “dear to my heart” because the fearless co-character is modeled after her sister Alexis, who has Down syndrome.

“In the story, Lexi is bold, inquisitive and has big dreams, and that’s what I want my audience to recognize,” she said.

This story not only shows children that playing with food can be fun and educational, but it also highlights the importance of acceptance. While others might think a disorder like Down syndrome is a hindrance, Nema and Lexi show that the ingredients of compassion, acceptance and love make anything possible.

“I want to show kids what is possible,” Manning said. “Lexi is a fully functioning child with special needs. This is a hope and a dream that people with special needs can accomplish what they dream.”

Manning is already dreaming of her next book.

“I have some ideas already in the works,” she said. “It’s rare to see children of color represented this way. I hope to expand on these girls’ dreams.”

Set for a Feb. 22 release, “Can I Play with My Food?” is available locally at Novel. Bookstore, Burke’s Book Store, Cooper-Young Gallery & Gift Shop, Feast & Graze, Sweet LaLa’s Bakery and Terra Cotta. The book is also available for order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and Bookshop.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

‘Can I Play with My Food?’ book events

Feb. 24: Benjamin Hooks Library

Ali Manning will host a book reading and Science 4 Kids program from 2-3:30 p.m. at Benjamin Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Ave.

March 5: Novel

Manning will host a book talk and signing at 2 p.m. at Novel, 387 Perkins Extd.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Must read

Latest articles

- Advertisement -