Friday, June 7, 2013

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Well, summer is now officially here for my kids, and all the freedom (and rebelliousness) that comes of three months without school took about. . .3 1/2 minutes to take hold of their attitudes.

Take Wednesday night at the dinner table, for instance. It was green bean night, and green beans are quite possibly the least-favored vegetable among my children. Nonetheless, I am an Unwavering Supermom, and Junior would be sitting at the table until midnight if that's what it came down to.

"I will never eat those beans!" my little one swore.

"And this is my mad face to prove it," he added.

While some parents might find this tiresome and annoying, I took pictures and found it humorous.

Guess what?

I won.
OK, so I didn't win the "eat with your fork, not your hands" battle, but the beans got eaten nonetheless.
The funny thing is that the next day, he actually REQUESTED green beans for lunch. Turns out, there are two tricks to getting kids to eat their beans:

1. Salt

And that brings us nicely to today's "Perfect Picture Book" —

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans

Author: David LaRochelle
Illustrator: Mark Fearing
Publisher: Dial, 2013
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 4-8
Topics: Picky Eaters, Food, Vegetables, Action/Adventure

First Pages: 
"Every Tuesday evening Martha's family had green beans for dinner."

"Every Tuesday night Martha was left alone at the table, staring at a plate of green beans that she wouldn't eat."

Why I Chose This Book:
Well, it's obvious from my post above that the green bean issue strikes a chord in our household. I imagine many children who will be able to relate to Martha. But what I really loved about this book is that as didactic as the idea of getting kids to eat vegetables is, this book does not appear didactic to children (or, as I might say, it's focused on the story rather than the lesson). The humor in having cowboy/pirate/bandit green beans "swagger" into town is so far-fetched it's completely fresh and engaging. I'm not sure I've ever seen my four-year-old sit so still! 

The writer-side in me also saw this as a very strong book for many reasons: the verbs are strong, the pacing is perfect, the dialogue is done well, the character is developed, the child solves her own problem, and everything is resolved PLUS there's a twist at the end. And David LaRochelle broke the rule about not making inanimate objects (especially fruits and vegetables) talk. Fearing's illustrations are also spot-on. The book is well-thought out and executed, and I'm glad that it was face-out at our local bookstore or I might have missed it.

Here's a Green Bean Fact Sheet from my state's Department of Public Instruction.

This Australian website also tries to get kids jazzed up about beans:

If you want to cook or make raw green bean dishes, there are some kid-friendly recipes here: 

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to stop by Susanna Hill's blog to see more Perfect Picture Books! I'm going to go check on my bean plant in the garden!


Sue Heavenrich said...

great review! my kids, however, loved beans - we grew them: yellow beans, purple beans, green beans that were really long and skinny (called them pencil beans) and "rattlesnake" beans that look just like their name.
how my kids ate beans (and spinach and peas and just about everything): straight off the vine (baskets came back to kitchen without many veggies); cold in salad. Cooked veggies - yeah, that's the problem right there. So we blanched 'em and made dipping sauces and ate with our fingers.

Laura Anne said...

Miranda, the title alone made me snicker. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing.

Miranda Paul said...

Sue, that's great that your children love beans! My kids love spinach and carrots and a few other things we grow. . .and they like them raw! Cooked green things aren't their favorite. Yep, that's the problem! But this is the first year we're growing beans, so until they're ready, cooked is what we'll have when it's bean night. Thanks for sharing!!

Miranda Paul said...

Laura Anne - that is a great title! It came home with us right away, hardcover. Worth every penny! Enjoy the read and thanks for stopping by.

Laura Renauld said...

Gotta find this one for my picky green bean eaters! I'd rather be amused than frustrated :)

Anonymous said...

Green beans were on the top of my Big List of Nasty Veggies, and though no longer there, are not on the top of the Favs list, but IF we had grown them, and IF we had some sauce to dip, maybe, just maybe...Thanks for a fun review!

Joanne Roberts said...

I posted a book about veggies, but it's not nearly as hilarious as yours. Oh do I remember those days stuck at the dinner table, though for me it was meat loaf. My kids have always been allowed one food they never have to eat. Conversation always goes like this:
"You don't want to eat the beans? OK, I'll go slice up some tomatoes."
"Ewww! No way!"
"Are you sure? I don't mind getting you some tomatoes."
"NO thanks. I'll eat the beans!"

Patricia T. said...

The cover and title engage you right away. Sounds like a really creative and entertaining book. Am going to have to find this one for a picky granddaughter. said...

Great find, Miranda. It sounds full of adventure and fun.

Ellen L. Ramsey said...

What wonderful photos! Looks like eating green beans actually turned out to be fun.

Vivian Kirkfield said...

What fun, Miranda! I was a picky I eat EVERYTHING...too much sometimes.:) My oldest son was a picky eater...he also has grown in his ability to eat diverse foods. In fact, his eight-year old twins have grown up eating Indian food, Mexican food, and everything else. :) They are always hungry for meals because they don't get sugary snacks or juice during the day.
Love the the book...good luck with summer vacation. :)

David LaRochelle said...

Thank you for such a nice review of "Martha," Laura! In case any of your readers are interested, they can find a template to make their own"Wanted" poster for bad green beans at my website:
I was a very picky eater myself growing up, but ham (not green beans) was the food that kept me at the table long after everyone else had left. Take heart in that I eventually became much more adventurous, and perhaps your kids will too!

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