Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book #8: I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child



Image from Amazon.co
Today’s post is dedicated to picky eaters (and their parents) everywhere. This is the story of Charlie and his younger sister, Lola, who simply refuses to eat certain foods. She has a very long list, starting with carrots and ending with the most horrible of all – tomatoes. Lola emphatically states that she will “absolutely never not ever eat a tomato.” Charlie’s parents put him in charge of giving Lola her dinner. He puts some carrots on the table. Lola points out that she ever eats carrots, he replies that they aren’t carrots at all. They’re orange twiglets from Jupiter. Lola decides that if they’re all the way from Jupiter she better try some. And she likes them! Charlie continues to trick Lola into eating dinner. Finally, she points at the tomatoes on the table and asks for one. Charlie is confused and asks if she really wants one. Lola, of course, gets the last word, “Yes, of course, moonsquirters are my favorite. You didn’t think they were tomatoes, did you, Charlie?”

Child’s collage illustrations are full of life and color. She uses photographs of real objects combined with textures and patterns to create a playful, eye-catching world. As Charlie describes the fantastic foods he’s found for Lola Child takes the opportunity to illustrate these flights of fancy with whimsical touches. My favorite is a picture of the siblings holding up their bowls to catch the green peas raining down on them. 

It’s a great story for a sibling, brother, or sister storytime. As someone who is extremely close with my younger brother I’m drawn to stories where brothers and sisters take care of each other. Although Charlie may trick Lola into eating fish sticks and carrots, he’s a very caring older brother. It’s refreshing to see characters modeling a good sibling relationship.

This book is absolutely ripe (pun intended) for a storytime about food. All the foods that Lola won’t eat are listed twice in the book and this is a great set up to get kids involved. Print out large, colorful pictures of each of food and hold them up as you read them out. You could also make them out of felt for a flannelboard (although there’s quite a few, so it could be time/money intensive) or laminate them and stick them to the wall with tape/putty or attach magnets to the back. If you have plastic or stuffed plush foods (often known as realia) have the kids pass them around as you talk about them. As you go through the list the 2nd time in the story point to each food and have the kids fill in the blank. Ask the kids questions like: Do you eat cauliflower? What other foods would you add to the list? Would you eat cloud fluff? What are your favorite foods? If you’re reading this at home, feel free to add foods that your child won’t eat to the list. It’ll make the story feel more personal, and who knows? Maybe they’ll eat their brussel sprouts. 

Image from the Children's/Imaginative Illustration Blog
One of my favorite food related songs is I Am a Pizza, written by Charlotte Diamond. My brother and I loved her music when we were kids (on tape cassette!). Diamond also sings it in French, Je Suis Une Pizza. Again, kids love visuals, so make a flannelboard pizza or hold up colorful pictures of cheese, pepperoni, anchovies, etc. Make a cardboard pizza and put it in a pizza box. At the right time in the song, drop it on the ground. The last verse of the song is melodramatic, so go for it, mourn that poor, messed up pizza! 

If your children get a kick out of this book Lauren Child has written several other Charlie and Lola books. And this definitely won’t be the last time I feature one of her books on my blog.

-Amy

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