Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tales for Very Picky Eaters

I was not a picky eater as a child. Of course, there were a few foods I didn't care for (succotash, anyone?), but overall I ate and enjoyed most meals. My daughter was the same. And so for many years I was blissfully unaware of the trials of cooking for a fussy eater. Then I met K, my SO (Significant Other) and soon to be husband. The list of foods he won't eat is jaw-dropping (to me at least). Snow peas are one of the few veggies he likes (along with string beans and fresh greens), and if I never see another green pod in my life it will be too soon.

So I was intrigued to find an early reader with the commanding title: Tales for Very Picky Eaters. Josh Schneider, the author-illustrator, got one thing right--the types of foods picky eaters don't like and the reasons why. The five tales feature the following foods: "disgusting broccoli," "smelly lasagna" (the kind with mushrooms), "repulsive milk," "lumpy oatmeal," and "slimy eggs." In each tale, James is served one of these foods, and like any self-respecting picky eater won't try them. His father attempts to change his mind with some unusual tactics. Since James doesn't want to try broccoli, what about some dirt? Not just any dirt, mind you, but dirt that's been "walked on by the most skilled chefs wearing the finest French boots." Or some gum previously chewed by children with especially clean teeth? Or socks worn by a runner fed nothing but apples and cinnamon? Faced with these alternatives, James agrees to the broccoli. So it goes with the other foods. James tries the lasagna to avoid sending its maker, a troll who lives in their basement, back to the rat circus. He samples the oatmeal so it won't grow into a mushy monster that overtakes the house.

The father's outlandish tall tales are amusing, as are the illustrations of them, especially the oatmeal monster with bits of the family's belongings stuck in it. Will they actually get a picky eater to try a detested food? Not one bit. Will they get a reluctant reader to devour the book in one sitting? You bet.

Tales for Very Picky Eaters
by John Schneider
Clarion Books, 48 pages
Published: May 2011

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