First up was Yum-Yum Bento Box by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa.
From the publisher Quirk Books:
"Oh, boy-obento! These cute, yummy, healthy lunches are all the rage in Japan, where mothers think of them as an expression of love for their children. Yum-Yum Bento Box is one of the first cookbooks in English devoted to these healthy and adorable meals–they’re fresh, they’re tasty, and they’re almost too cute to eat!
Each step-by-step recipe in Yum-Yum Bento Box is simple and adaptable. Readers will learn how to form their favorite foods into a variety of shapes-from zebras, panda bears, and monkeys to kitties, piggies, and puppy dogs. Chapters include instructions for classic bento boxes and character-driven bentos (called Kyaraben), plus shopping advice, general tips and tricks, and much more. Stop wasting money on prepackaged lunches-and start making beautiful, healthy bentos!
CRYSTAL WATANABE makes bento boxes for her two preschool-aged children; her Web site “Adventures in Bento Making” is a popular forum for bento makers worldwide. MAKI OGAWA is a mother whose bentos have been featured in many Asian magazines. She lives in Japan."
Kawaii Bento Boxes - Cute and convenient Japanese Meals on the Go. by the Joie Staff.
From the publisher Japan Publications:
"More than 70 ideas for making portable meals that are as much fun to look at as they are to eat-and they're not just for kids.
A bento box meal (single portions of different foods packed in one reusable container) is a Japanese tradition that lends itself well to today's busy lifestyle. Although bento boxes are available to take out from restaurants and food stands, they are most frequently prepared at home, very often by parents wishing to provide their children with delicious, healthy, fun-and environmentally- responsible-lunch and snack-time alternatives.
Kawaii Bento Boxes offers dozens of recipes and menus. For each box, the authors include detailed instructions for cooking, seasoning, decorating and assembling the components as well as an icon indicating how long it will take to prepare. The meals are not just easy to make, they are tasty, nutritious and economical, with each portion carefully calculated so that there are no leftovers. There are also suggestions for the right container for each meal. Most of the ingredients used are familiar and available to North American cooks. Here are whimsical creations like soccer balls and animal faces made from shaped rice, tulips cut from dyed hardboiled eggs, hearts and stars carved out of vegetables, and much more. Perfect for parents looking to liven up their children's school lunches or park snacks, or for busy people who want to fix a quick and cheerful meal to take to work, Kawaii Bento Boxes highlights the Japanese passion for making food a treat for the eyes as well as for the mouth."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)