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Like William Wondriska's The Tomato Patch, this is an allegory of the futility of war, and it also starts with two hostile powers and a pastoral oasis in between. There lives a woman who will have nothing to do with the war, and her two sons; to protect her potato field and her boys, she builds an enclosing wall. The three work by day and eat potatoes by night until the boys grow up; then each looks over the wall in the opposite direction and leaves, one to wear a red uniform and a beautiful sword, the other to wear a blue uniform and a shiny medal. Each becomes an officer, but in time their uniforms tear, their swords bend, and they begin to think of soft beds and baked potatoes and their mother, and they feel sad. When no food is left in East or West, the two return with their armies, and the frantic soldiers break down the wall shouting ""POTATOES! POTATOES!"" After the battle, the woman lies still on the ground, and the two sons weep; seeing them, all the soldiers think of their mothers and start to cry too. And then the woman stands up; she still has enough potatoes to feed them, she says, but they must promise to stop fighting and go home. ""Hurrah for potatoes and hurrah for mothers;"" peace reigns and the farm is rebuilt but never the wall. The telling has individuality and rhythm, the illustrations have the kind of detail that makes Troll Music memorable, and the message can't be gainsaid--but will it work? The potatoes may pass, but we wonder at the appeal to mother-love for five-year-old (and also at the device of apparently killing off mother to arouse it). This is one that only individual judgment and experience can assay.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Harper & Row