Summer Reading: For the Kids

There’s a great used book store I like to go to when I visit Connecticut in the summer. Traditionally I head for their food section and stock up for the year, but this summer I detoured to the children’s books. And I discovered a lot of overlap. There was Popcorn, Pizza, Pasta, and Panda Cake and that was just in the “P” box. I found I gravitated to the food-related titles and the two I came home with both ended up surprising and amusing me.

First, Bon Appetit, Mr. Rabbit! by Claude Boujon, a translation of a 1985 French book. Mr. Rabbit, not too keen on carrots, goes out to ask other animals what they like to eat. Frog eats insects, bird eats worms, etc. until he comes to a fox who says calmly that he eats rabbits before pouncing. Mr. Rabbit escapes, but loses his ears. Back at home, he is happy to have his carrots for supper, especially since they promote ear growth. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

The second book is even darker and funnier: Pumpkinhead by Eric Rohmann, Knopf 2003. Otho is a little boy with a pumpkin for a head. One day a rhyming bat steals it to make his home, leaving Otho’s body running to and fro. Tiring, the bat drops the pumpkin head into the sea where it is eaten by a fish. But the fish is squeezed by a squid and Otho’s head pops out and finds its way into a fisherman’s net. Thrilled by such an exotic catch, the fisherman puts him up at the fish market, where Otho’s mother happens to be shopping. “After some spirited dickering, she bought Otho’s head and a half-pound of mackerel,” which the boy enjoys once back at home. Now that’s what I’d call living the locavore lifestyle!

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