The main goal of this project is to come up with a brilliant picture book text that will be published and shared with every preschool child in Scotland. To make it the best it can be, we spent a session looking at all sorts of picture books about food, to get inspiration and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. From a stack of 30 picture books, everyone chose one and noted down the author, illustrator and the main storyline. We then took turns telling each other about our book, describing the illustrations and talking about the message in the book. Here is what we found:
Lisa looked at Never Use a Knife and Fork by Neil Goddard and Nick Sharratt. It has a fun, rhyming text and is all about the terrible things children can do with food! There’s a wide range of different foods so they aren’t all healthy choices, but it’s silly and surprising with bright, cartoonish illustrations that really engage a young audience. We wondered whether the message of the book would produce chaos at mealtimes, but most people thought kids would know that it was just for fun.
Demi chose Don’t Dip Your Chips in Your Drink, Kate by Caryl Hart and Leigh Hodgkinson. This is another rhyming story all about table manners, and it involves the central character being sent to the Queen to learn how to behave. As it turns out, the Queen is quite a rebel herself! Demi thought it might not be ideal for teaching children about eating at the table, but at least the book comes with a parental warning on the cover: “This book has a seriously cheeky ending!”
Stacy chose Lynne’s book, I Do Not Eat the Colour Green, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain. She liked the rhyming text and the message that you need to try new foods before deciding that you just don’t like them. In this case the foods that the little girl character doesn’t like are healthy ones, so it has a similar aim to the book we will be trying to write. Everyone agreed that the illustrations make all the green vegetables look very appealing.
Kay reviewed Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall. She described the hairy, dirty, greedy boars with great relish, and told the group the story of Boris, Morris, Horace and Doris who set about making a truly disgusting Massive Pudding. When it came out of the oven, the four boars devoured it messily in ten seconds flat. At the end of the story, Doris finds another recipe, this time for a Massive Cookie, and readers can follow the recipe and make it. So much for healthy eating!
Eileen read us Eat Your Peas by Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt. It’s another story about a fussy eater who will not eat her peas no matter what her mother promises in return. By the end of the story Mum is promising to buy the moon and stars, let Daisy stay up all night and never tidy her room ever again, but nothing works. When Mum admits she doesn’t like Brussels sprouts either, Daisy wins the argument. We didn’t think this sort of message would be right for our book, as neither the mother nor the daughter is a healthy eater!
Pauline chose Nora, the Girl Who Ate and Ate by Andrew Weale and Ben Cort. This is a crazy story about a girl who eats everything in her house, making a big sandwich with the mattress of her bed! At the end of the book she has a huge burp and everything she has eaten reappears. The illustrations are bright and colourful and the story is silly and fun, but it certainly doesn’t have a healthy eating message!
Michaela chose a collection of poems all about food by authors like Judith Nicholls, John Kitching, Grace Nichols and Arnold Adoff, and illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Tasty Poems are silly and short, and the subjects range from healthy mangos, grapes and cabbages to not-so-healthy sugarcake and chocolate milk. Although she liked the illustrations, Michaela wasn’t too impressed by the poems. Perhaps they’re a bit dated as the collection was published in 1992.
Finally, Paula chose Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt. (It seems Nick Sharratt has a lot of books about food!) This one has a fun rhyming text with all sorts of animals eating different foods. On each spread you can see a bit of the previous animal and the one to come, so the reader can guess what will be next. Paula thought the rhymes worked well, even if chocolate mousse is not the healthiest option! We are hoping to make our book a silly rhyming one too.