Friday, 20 January 2012

Eat your peas

Bill doesn't like peas. Or carrots. Or sweetcorn (he'll wolf down broccoli, spinach and a variety of beans though in case you were thinking I've completely Failed As A Mother)(...'wolf'.. may be overstating the case) It's still a puzzle. I'd go as far as to say he's almost phobic about peas. I had to individually fish them out of a shepherd's pie on a playdate recently whilst he cowered in his seat moaning; 'I can see another one mum. quick! there! under that piece of mashed potato! GET IT. QUICK....'

He shares this attribute with Daisy, the heroine of Kes Gray's wonderful 'Eat your Peas': Daisy and her Mum sit at the dinner table contemplating her plate, empty except for the hated peas.

'"Eat your peas," said Mum. Daisy looked at the little green balls that were ganging up on her plate. "I don't like peas," said Daisy.'

Daisy's Mum begins the well established practice of trying to bribe or 'incentivise' her to eat those peas. She starts small; 'If you eat your peas, you can have some pudding'...but without success. The incentives start to escalate. 'If you eat your peas, you can have some pudding, stay up for an extra half hour and you can skip your bath.'. Daisy's expression and response on each double page spread remains the same: 'I don't like peas.' The escalation escalates. 'If you eat your peas you can have 48 puddings, stay up past midnight, you never have to wash again, I'll buy you two new bikes and a baby elephant.' And escalates further: 'if you eat your peas, I'll buy you a supermarket stacked full of puddings, you never have to go to bed again ever, or school again, you never have to wash, or brush your hair, or clean your shoes, or tidy your bedroom, I'll buy you a bike shop, a zoo, ten chocolate factories, I'll take you to Superland for a week and you can have your very own space rocket with double retro laser blammers.'

This is a book which you shouldn't read aloud whilst anybody is drinking anything because they are guaranteed to start the sort of snorty giggling that makes milk come out of their nose. Nick Sharratt's deceptively simple, flat cartoon style of illustration complement the text perfectly; especially the small diagrammatic pictures accompanying Mum's promises.

Does Daisy eat her peas? Let's just say there's a nice twist, but ultimately everyone gets pudding. Mums' apparently aren't perfect beings either. This is a good reminder about the holes that may be dug in the name of Authoritarian Parenting.

There are lots of other 'Daisy' books, both in picture book form and as longer stories in simple chapter books. 'Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos' is one of the latter, and another favourite here; it's hard to resist a story of baby penguin kidnap. If Bill emulates Daisy in Pea Hatred I started getting ideas of my own from her at London Zoo's great new Penguin Beach Exhibit. Honestly, they swim so close to you, and they're very sweet, and then they'd fit in very well in this house because everyone likes to eat fish....

'Eat Your Peas' written Kes Gray, illus. Nick Sharratt, pub. Red Fox, isbn 978-1-862-30804-6

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