Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pete Won't Eat by Emily Arnold McCully -- NOT RECOMMENDED

McCully, Emily Arnold Pete Won't Eat 32 pgs. Holiday House, 2013. $14.95. PICTURE BOOK

Mom makes a treat for her four piglets: green slop. Three of them gobble it up and go out to play, but Pete won't touch it. His mom tells him no playing until he eats his slop. And so the standoff begins. As the clock in the background shows the afternoon waning, Pete's mom sits in her office trying to work but instead worrying that she's doing the wrong thing by holding her ground. Finally, she begins to cry and declares, "I am a mean mom!" But just as she caves and makes Pete a sandwich instead, he decides to try his slop and discovers it isn't that bad after all. The next day they hang out at the stove, making more green slop together.

At first glance this looks like a cute book about a topic many children encounter, and the last scene is heart-warming. In the end, however, I simply could not recommend it. What kind of lesson does it teach kids when Pete's refusal to eat not only drives his mother to tears and has her shouting that she's a mean mom, but also gets her to give in and make him a sandwich instead? (Then, and only then, does he eat his slop.) That if kids hold out long enough they will get their way? That it's okay to manipulate parents and drive them to tears? That when parents stand their ground it's because they are mean, not firm? That the kids are really the ones in control? While families are not perfect, and that should indeed be reflected in books, in this case the child's manipulations and the mother's obvious kowtowing set a bad example in what could otherwise have been a good early reader.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- NOT RECOMMENDED. Reviewed by: Caryn

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