Avoiding vegetables is a childhood art form. Growing up, I would spit vegetables into my napkin when my parents weren’t looking. (I also enjoyed making my brother laugh when he had milk in his mouth. He would spit it all over the table much to the outrage of our dad.) It was the 70s and on babysitter nights, we had TV dinners with the pea, square carrot and corn combo. This made me gag and reach for my napkin. My husband said he and his siblings would put unwanted greenery on a little ledge under the dining room table.
Not eating your vegetables pays off in one of our favorite books. In How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans, Martha refuses to eat her green beans every Tuesday night. “Green beans are bad. Very bad,” Martha thinks. The author is David LaRochelle and the book is illustrated by Mark Fearing.
Martha’s refusal to eat green beans is rewarded. When mean green beans with beady eyes, long curly mustaches, hats, and pointy boots swagger into town terrorizing anyone who has ever eaten a green bean, they leave Martha alone. They make rude noises, hoop and holler, and take Martha’s parents captive.
At first, Martha enjoys it. She doesn’t have to clean her room! She stays up late, eats cookies and sugary cereal for dinner, and watches bad TV. It’s a little like she’s in her 20s but she’s a little girl. But she misses her parents (what you won’t admit in your 20s) and decides to rescue them in the morning.
The leader of the beans is not scared when she threatens to eat them. “You’ve never eaten a green bean in your life,” he sneers. (See Max act out the scene in a video clip.)
Gulp. Martha eats all the beans, rescues her parents, and settles into a life of eating less threatening veggies. But does she? That nice leafy salad looks menacing.
Little Pea written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace, is about the culinary habits of vegetables. Little Pea is a happy little guy, except at dinner. Did you know peas eat candy for dinner? And his parents make him eat it.
For some reason, I like to read this story sounding like Tom Haverford, Aziz Ansari’s character on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. I know I’m weird but it works.
My boys crack up at the image of little Pea eating his candy. “One. Yuck. Two. Blech. Three. Plck. Four. Pleh.” This is a line my family often repeats in daily life.
Little Pea finally gets dessert. Spinach! “Yum. Yum. Extra yum.” (Another great line we repeat.)
“But candy is dessert and spinach is regular food,” Calvin said. “It’s all mixed up!”
Little pea and his parents live “hap-pea-ly ever after.”
How to find these books and more info
After checking out How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans about 20 times from the library, we bought it. You can find it at Cincinnati’s Blue Manatee or order it from Powell’s City of Books. Author LaRochelle is also a pumpkin carver! Check out his designs and other books on his website. Mark Fearing offers green bean coloring pages on his website. His blog features mean green beans and other cool stuff.
You can find Little Pea at Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s little books at Chronicle Books or Rosenthal’s website. She’s also the co-author of another wonderful book that we love, Exclamation Mark with Tom Lichtenheld. My husband and I discovered it at Carmichael’s in Louisville, Kentucky. Lichtenheld is also the author of the Max and Calvin approved Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.
Take a moment to peruse Rosenthal’s site. She has adult books, art projects, the works. I also found the illustrations on Jen Corace’s site beautiful.
Shout out to Melissa Currence for helping and inspiring me with this blog!