A stern yam corrects a grammatically challenged donkey.
Beginning a muddled and maddening who’s-on-first routine, with enough back and forth to make youngsters’ heads spin, a donkey proudly proclaims, “I yam a donkey!” However, a nearby yam disagrees. “The proper way to say that,” it admonishes, “is ‘I am a donkey.’ ” To which the donkey incredulously replies, “You is a donkey, too?” The poor, foolish donkey never quite figures out which form of “to be” to use, and the small, bespectacled yam grows increasingly frustrated. When a cluster of vegetables—green beans, a turnip, and a carrot—comes along (and introduces new pronouns), the donkey has a grand realization. Sadly, it’s not about grammar but about…lunch! The moral, as Bell explicitly states in the end, is: “If you is going to be eaten, good grammar don’t matter.” Parents, teachers, and librarians may cringe. Kids not yet literate enough to recognize the visual difference between “yam” and “I am” will likely be too confused to care. The homophonic nuance is not a familiar language problem (unless you are Popeye), so many readers will not get the chance to rise above and see any humor—in either correcting the donkey or being invested in the joke.
This attempt to bring levity to an already-difficult grammar task for children just tangles the situation further. (Picture book. 5-8)