The Worst Breakfast – Perfect Picture Book Friday

As promised, one more gratuitous pic of a fabulous sculpture in THE LAST BOOKSTORE:

Apparently, one reader got lost in the Horror Vault and mummified so they strapped her to the wall as a warning to others….I think she looks like an angel.

You can see more pics of THE LAST BOOKSTORE in last week’s post. Now, for another book I found within the store’s Children’s Picture Book section:

Text copyright: China Miéville, Image copyright: Zak Smith

What?! China Miéville, the British author known for his adult “British urban fantasy fiction” wrote a picture book?! That cover does look like a breakfast nightmare, yes?

The absurd food wordplay in this book will tickle the funny bones of picky eaters or the gross-me-out-til-we’re-all-giggling types (most kids). Sometimes those two circles of the Venn diagram overlap, right? I’m thinking that the author MUST be the father of a picky eater, because the last full page spread will hit home with exasperated parents.

But first, the opening:

Text copyright: China Miéville, Image copyright: Zak Smith

Apparently, Little Sis needs a reminder….

Text copyright: China Miéville, Image copyright: Zak Smith

So Big Sis goes on a reminder rampage. About underdone eggs, porridge that resembles “GUNK scraped off the hulls of boats,” catastrophic sausages, unbaked beans, slimy red tomatoes (a page with a nod to rhyme critics), black pudding, bacon that tastes like a deep-fried shoe….

You get the picture. And at the height of grossness, the reader is confronted with a wall of text, wordplay and imagery that Lewis Carroll would have enjoyed. I’m not going to show it to you. You’ll have to find this book and read it for yourselves. But Little Sis still doesn’t remember.

Not until Big Sis describes the absolutely most grotesque breakfast disaster of all—

“The orange juice was FULL OF BITS.”

Bingo! Little Sis remembers!


…Until Today.

Text copyright: China Miéville, Image copyright: Zak Smith

.Little Sis is about to lose it….until Big Sis saves the day with the tea strainer. And they decide that this may not be the best breakfast…

Text copyright: China Miéville, Image copyright: Zak Smith

Zak Smith’s bold, surreal illustrations, a mix of creatures, bugs, and grotesque food bits, are mesmerizing. I keep finding all kinds of strange things in them. Kids who love art and all things disgusting, should have this picture book on their shelves. I think The Worst Breakfast would also make for a fabulous classroom read aloud.


  • Draw pictures or make collages of the worst and best meals you’ve ever had, using crayons, markers, and cutouts from magazines or newspapers. Talk about how they’re different.
  • Tips for parents of picky eaters
  • See how many dragon-like creatures, fish, bugs, bug eyes, and other bizarre things you can find in the pictures. CHALLENGE: See if you can draw a picture that makes a creature look like part of something else in the picture, just like the paintings in this book.

Title: The Worst Breakfast

Author: China Miéville

Illustrator: Zak Smith

Publisher: Akashic Books, 2016

Age Range: K-5th

Themes: silliness, gross-outs, picky eaters

For those looking for more perfect picture book recommendations, check out Susanna Hill’s website.

22 thoughts on “The Worst Breakfast – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Sarah Tobias says:

    For some reason your description of this book makes me think of Rashka’s Arlene Sardine. Stange and funny, and not your average picture book. The cool part is that The Worst Breakfast is available at my library and I’m headed that way. So many books, so little time.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Interesting. I haven’t read Arlene Sardine. The San Francisco Public Library only has a hard copy for in library use at the Main library. Interesting. It’s a 1998 title, I see. So I downloaded a PDF from them. Will read it. Hope you enjoy The Worst Breakfast!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Just read this. Vegans and vegetarians would most likely not put this on their reading list. Rashka’s treatment is very straightforward and in some cases humorous. And definitely educational. And I love the artwork! I’m trying to think of what the artwork in The Worst Breakfast reminds me of. There’s a style of drawing that starts with ink splatters and then turns them into shapes that are recognizable. I don’t know if it has a name, but that’s the feeling I get from The Worst Breakfast. Hard to put my finger on. I keep staring at the pages, finding new things. Yes, sooo many books…..

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    Wow! This is some book. Kids will have a great time picking out everything gross — are there lizards or crocodiles? See the eyeballs. This book is one of a kind. I might just have to share it with my silly grandson, who announced at age 3, that his “boogies” tasted good. He’s older, but would have fun with this book!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      If my son made his favorite meal collage, it would contain mostly white or beige food groups. Although to be fair, he will eat red cabbage, steamed broccoli, and a couple of pureed soups that are vegetable-based, LOL. But his “go-to” foods are bread, rice, and hash browns.

  3. Lynn Baldwin says:

    That certainly sounds like an usual way of addressing picky eaters. Thanks for reviewing something I otherwise would not have heard of.

  4. Ste J says:

    Would this make a good counterpoint to George’s Marvellous Medicine? I can see this book inspiring kids to create their on culinary concoctions.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Oh yes, they could most likely make some fine vile creations, or at least think up vile descriptions, like ants on a log ( raisins on a peanut butter-covered celery stick). But if I recall correctly, Dahl’s book came with a warning about not trying to make his concoctions at home, lol…

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