A cheerful, fun approach to good food with the authentic flavor of folk tales for kids 4 to 8.

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.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502596390

Page Count: 56

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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