Daily Archives: October 8, 2012

I Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato – Lauren Child

Lauren Child is a wicked spirit from a world in which no grown-ups are allowed. She records the exploits of clever children in paintbox-bright collages of drawings, photographs, patterned paper maybe? and what looks like oil paint crayons. Her books and pint-sized characters are delicious–Clarice Bean is among my favorite utterly self-assured little bad girls. I Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato, a Charlie and Lola book, is a triumph of art and imagination over picky eaters everywhere.

Charlie has this little sister Lola who crosses her arms over her chest and looks at him sideways. You can tell by the look she is one big NO. Lola is a “very fussy eater,” which is a challenge for Charlie when his parents ask him to give her dinner. (We assume the parents are too exhausted to parent the mini-dynamo. Or maybe they have power-player Wall St. jobs and don’t ever make it home before bedtime.) Charlie, though, has a few tricks up his sleeve to deal with an immovable object who only opens her mouth at the table to declare what she will not eat: carrots (for rabbits), peas (too green), potatoes, mushrooms, spaghetti, eggs, sausages, cauliflower, cabbage, baked beans, bananas, oranges, apples, rice, cheese, fish sticks–and NEVER tomatoes. Tough customer.

Ah, but Charlie is undaunted. He agrees she should never touch a single one of those things, even as he puts a bowl of carrots on the table. Lola calls him on it, just before he patiently explains that they aren’t carrots–they are orange twiglets from the planet Jupiter. The peas are incredibly rare green drops from Greenland that fall from the sky. The mashed potatoes are cloud fluff from the top of Mount Fuji. The fish sticks are mermaid snacks from the supermarket under the sea. And, according to Lola, those round red things she would like Charlie to pass to her are moonsquirters. Well, naturally. What did you think they were? Tomatoes?

You are very unsophisticated. Charlie is a genius. And Lola is practically a vegan by the end of the book–except for the fish sticks. It’s yummy. It could simplify melodramatic meals at your house, too. Serve it up right before a big salad with a side of whimsy and see what happens. Then go out and collect every loopy book of Lauren Child’s that you can find. She’s really really good. So are moonsquirters.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Charlie and Lola)   Lauren Child | Candlewick Press   2000

Booked: The Countdown

One week to go. I will have read and blogged a book every day for a year. A crazy idea–even an avid reader can’t give a good book its due in such a mad dash. There have been days when the necessity to read and blog a book saved me. There were even more days when I thought it would kill me.

No magic was disturbed, activated or experienced in the reading of these books. Life handed out no bonbons, in fact, it was a brutal year in a relentless economic depression that remains a giant, ongoing soul-suck. Some days I spent so much time scraping the bowl of client and web content writing to cover the rent that I was up until dawn finishing my book and typing who-knows-what into this blog. Some days I gnashed my teeth at bad writing, amateur plotting, teeny-teeny type, irritating characters or fiction-fails between book covers.  Some days I gratefully slipped into a good book and lost myself in another world.

I thought some highly-regarded novels were dreck and some well-done genre novels were divine. I loved most of the children’s books and some of the YA. I did not become enlightened. But I read a lot of books. Still reading. I wish I had time to tackle some fat, fabulous epics for the last leg. Alas, I’m still grabbing whatever the library gives up and plowing through it after the day’s demands are met. Or not exactly met. In-between scanning and scribbling, I’m going to try to sort out what I got from this book-a-day year and sum up whatever I discover on the 15th. The day after I close the cover of the last book, note it here, and hand-select a few uncracked classics to peruse at my leisure.