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Children's Fiction Self-esteem & Self-reliance

French Toast

by (author) Kari-Lynn Winters

illustrated by Francois Thisdale

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Cooking & Food, Emigration & Immigration, Multigenerational
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price
    $17.95 USD
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: k to 2


“Simply told and cleverly imagined, French Toast is a great starting point for talking to young children about race, diversity, and respect.”—Quill and Quire ★ Starred Review

Phoebe—half Jamaican, half French-Canadian—hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” So she is mortified when, out on a walk with her Jamaican grandmother, she hears a classmate shout it out at her. To make things worse, Nan-Ma, who is blind, wants an explanation of the name. How can Phoebe describe the color of her skin to someone who has never seen it? “Like tea, after you’ve added the milk,” she says. And her father? “Like warm banana bread.” And Nan-Ma herself? She is like maple syrup poured over...well...

In French Toast, Kari-Lynn Winters uses favorite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. François Thisdale’s imaginative illustrations fill the landscape with whimsy and mouthwatering delight as Phoebe realizes her own resilience and takes ownership of her nickname proudly.

About the authors

Kari-Lynn Winters is the author of Jeffrey and Sloth (2007), a picture book about the daunting task of overcoming writer's block, and The Meaning Maker, a children's play about reading strategies which is currently being toured throughout the Lower Mainland. A graduate of Canada's National Theatre School, she is currently performing with a Vancouver children's theatre group, The Tickle Trunk Players.

Kari has taught a range of students in Canada and the United States, including pre-school, special education, primary, intermediate, high school, and now university teacher education.

She is currently completing her Ph.D. in the Language and Literacy Department at UBC. Her research interests are children's literature, print literacy, and multimodal forms of learning.

Kari's website is

Kari-Lynn Winters' profile page


L’œuvre de François Thisdale mélange les techniques traditionnelles et l’imagerie numérique. Il est l’illustrateur de The Stamp Collector, qui a été sur la liste d’honneur IBBY, That Squeak, un livre qui s’est mérité une mention d’honneur pour le prix IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver et Missing Nimama, lauréat du prix TD de littérature pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. François vit à Montréal, au Québec.


François Thisdale's work blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery. He is the illustrator of The Stamp Collector, which is on IBBY Honor List, That Squeak, an honour book for the IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik- Cleaver Picture Book Award, and Missing Nimama, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Award. François lives in Montreal, Quebec.


Francois Thisdale's profile page


  • Short-listed, Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award

Excerpt: French Toast (by (author) Kari-Lynn Winters; illustrated by Francois Thisdale)

Even though Nan-ma's blind, she sees things others do not. On weekends, I am her neighborhood guide. Today, I fall silent as we pass the school. I stare at my sandals, wishing Nan-ma could walk faster. Then one of the kids--the one who always carries the basketball--shouts, "Hey, French Toast!" Another kid laughs. "Come on, Nan-ma," I say, pulling her. "The park is just up ahead..."

Editorial Reviews

About French Toast

2018 Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award shortlist

2017 Shining Willow Award shortlist

STARRED REVIEW "French Toast looks as delectable as its title, thanks to François Thisdale's dreamlike illustrations: the landscapes seem to float in the background as giant loaves of banana bread and juicy peaches appear in the foreground....Winters obviously knows how to write for children. In this effective picture book, she engages her readers' imaginations – and their stomachs. She also doesn't dwell on negativity, but spins the story into one of self-affirmation...Simply told and cleverly imagined, French Toast is a great starting point for talking to young children about race, diversity, and respect."—Quill & Quire

"The illustrations are beautiful and the illustrator does beautiful portraits of his characters using digital media and acrylic....The author explains the concept of diversity in a positive life affirming way that children and adults will appreciate."—Resource Links

"When you are blind, you don't see skin color and you truly know that everyone is the same. Phoebe doesn't like it when kids from school call 'Hey, French Toast!' or tease her for her accent. Her Nan-ma is blind and asks Phoebe to describe the colors of family and friends. Their talk helps Phoebe to look at things in a different light."—The International Educator

"This is a beautiful book...The illustrations are wonderful and the descriptions of the food are perfect....It would be a good addition to a multi-cultural library. Kindergarten children will also enjoy the story read aloud to them. It will stimulate discussion on race."—Youth Services Book Review

"This is a delightful picture book...that celebrates the joys of diversity."—Winnipeg Free Press

"Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story and we liked its message. It's a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages....This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are."—Library of Clean Reads

"We rated this book: 4.5/5...This book is great for all ages and all colors."—Kilian, Age 8, Kids' BookBuzz

"French Toast is a delicious treat of a picture book that lets you explore a sophisticated topic in a way that is helpful and positive, but not simplistic."—Getting Kids Reading

"French Toast...feeds the spirit and bakes up multiple servings of compassion and open-mindedness, helpings we should all scoop out enthusiastically."—CanLit for LittleCanadians

"[A story about] the beauty in diversity and self-acceptance. With Thisdale's beautifully decadent and dream-like illustrations of the food described, this may be a story best read before snack time."—The Crimson Review of Children's & YA Literature

"The imaginative artwork blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery using collage, acrylic, watercolor, and computer manipulation."—Omnilibros

"Use this book to talk about differences, similarities, and kindness."—Imagination Soup


Librarian Reviews

French Toast

This is an important resource for young readers learning about race, culture, ethnicity, and what it means to be biracial. The book also explores the familial relationships between grandparent and child, and what it means to be differently abled. French Toast will help students contemplate and share the significance of their own names (and/or nicknames), and to take pride in the food associated with their culture The book makes effective use of simile to teach valuable lessons about culture and race.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Diversity Collection Selection 2017.

Other titles by Kari-Lynn Winters

Other titles by Francois Thisdale