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
2. HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS, by David LaRochelle

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.

Resources:
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: http://www.freshforkids.com.au/veg_pages/bean/bean.html

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!



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