Oliver’s Vegetables

“Oliver’s Vegetables” by Vivian French, illustrated by Alison Bartlett is one of our current go to stories. I find it educational, witty and very enjoyable. I got the book together with a bunch of others on the subject of food. Little gosling loves spending time in the kitchen, “cooking” and going with us to the bio market and thought books would be a great means to add to our hands-on discovery of produce in our kitchen. 

Oliver only eats chips, to his mom’s desperation. When he spends an entire week at his grandparents’, who grow their own vegetables, his grandpa comes up with a simple, yet genius way to have him discover veggies. Oliver can have chips if he can find the potatoes in the garden; otherwise, he must eat whatever he finds. It worked! And he loved all the veggies he found! 🙂 

I like the story on several levels. It features time spent with the grandparents, around a garden, learning first hand about how our food is produced. There’s a strong parallel there with both little gosling’s pairs of grandparents. It is also a good reminder that knowing one’s way around a vegetables garden is probably a good idea and it can go very far in waking up a child’s curiosity and interest in food. Furthermore, the book generally fosters a healthy and positive relationship with food. Oliver is portrayed gradually getting to enjoy the foods he’s discovering. It has been an effective tool to learn about the featured veggies (carrots, spinach, peas, beetroot, potatoes, rhubarb, cabbage), how they grow, how they look like, what part of the plants we eat. We’re meant to try a beetroot salad, like the one Oliver eats on Friday. That’s what little gosling has been more excited about. It is a also a good introduction to the days of the week, since Oliver discovers a new veggie each day. 

The illustrations do the trick in terms of identification of veggies. This is one of few books little gosling likes to listen to read aloud and only peeks at the illustration when he knows the name of the next veggie comes up, kind of like to get reassurance that it corresponds to what he’s thinking of. And he is now fixated on discovering what the family dog is up to.

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