In this illustrated children’s book, modern fairy tales encourage children to eat delicious fruits and vegetables.
Talking vegetables, a hungry dinosaur and a cabbage-loving emperor: These and other characters populate the six stories in this collection. In the first, for example, “The Pea and the Princess,” a brave little pea wishes to be sown by a true princess, so he goes in search of one. First a toad tries to eat him, then a rabbit, then a mouse, who grabs him—but is caught by a buzzard, pea and all. The mouse drops him into a castle garden, where he’s found by a true princess and planted. The kingdom’s children get to eat the resulting peas. A food artist, organic gardener and teacher, Alexander playfully encourages good eating habits in her debut story collection. Her stories possess genuine fairy-tale cadence in sentences such as “She put two apples and a goose feather into a bag and went into the forest.” Other successful fairy-tale techniques include building up the story through repetition or deciding to settle a quarrel by asking the first passerby to help. Alexander’s humorous phrasing also appeals: “The giant had only just finished eating and was snoring loudly. Poor squirrels! Unfortunate moles!” The beautifully done illustrations help tell the story; fruits and vegetables are hidden on every page (broccoli trees, an asparagus fence), and finding them is part of the fun. With their well-crafted rhythm and rhyme, the stories are perfect for reading aloud. The book can be didactic, with each story ending in moralistic lesson: “Full of vitamins, you see, / Is our little strawberry. / And we’ve learned through tale and song / That to brag and boast is wrong!” While the lessons are positive, some of the language may be a bit confusing for kids (“Although sometimes quite capricious / Cabbages can be delicious”).
A cheerful, fun approach to good food with the authentic flavor of folk tales for kids 4 to 8.