Sometimes this blog gives the impression that life in our home is idyllic, that I’m some sort of super mum and that our house gives off a continual pleasant, warm and loving glow.
Well. Let me assure you that this is not the case.
In order to get the material for this post I caused my kids to weep and scream at me. I even took photos of them yelling at me.
Well, I may score good marks on the glitter and glue front but I’ve failed utterly and totally when it comes to my kids and food: M is the fussiest eater I know, and J loves to copy her big sister so she too eats a hugely self-restricted diet (M will only eat 4 cooked things: sausages, egg noodles, fish fingers and, at a push, beefburgers. Yep, that’s it…).
So when along came a really lovely picture book about being a fussy eater I was delighted. Might it provide the breakthrough I’m constantly looking for?
One day Katharine Quarmby and Piet Grobler‘s Fussy Freya decides all the food she used to like is no longer yummy. She simply refuses to touch it. Her parents try to keep their cool but when the food they’ve lovingly prepared gets thrown on the floor they despair and decide to call on Grandma’s help.
When Freya throws down the gauntlet and tells her granny that she want to eat giraffe and other wild animals, Grandma calls her bluff and prepares precisely what Freya has requested. Warthog stuffed with cheese, grilled giraffe with cheese or mashed monkey, any one? Will this revolting food be a hit with Freya, or will she realise that what her parents offer her is actually rather yummy and so much more appealing than the exotic dishes her grandparents prepare for her?
Katharine Quarmby’s rolling, rhyming tale of a fussy eater is great fun. There’s a lovely little refrain that kids will quickly pick up on and join in with, and the mixture of humour, naughtiness and rather shocking dishes (most kids love a little bit of squeamishness, especially if it’s safely at arms’ length in the pages of a book) are great ingredients combined to make a satisfying tale. Piet Grobler’s illustrations are full of gorgeous colour and perfectly match the slightly grotesque story, being both full of love and warmth, and seasoned with a sharp edge.
One final aspect I really like about Fussy Freya is that Freya’s family is a mixed race family. This isn’t commented upon at all in the story – her’s is just a normal, “unremarkable” family. It’s great to see this in a picture book as it doesn’t happen often.
In the spirit of Fussy Freya I thought I’d offer my girls some really ghastly food in the hope that they’d realise that my offerings of “normal” food were actually quite ok.
For starters I gave them a bowl of snot. (Can you think of a child who doesn’t pick her nose?)
Cream cheese with a bit of food colouring, and bread sticks for dipping. Innocuous? OH NO. M actually ran away from the table screaming and hid.
For pudding I offered them freshly plucked eyeballs.
You can see that the vanilla icecream and raspberry coulis topped with a smartie (coloured chocoloate sweet) didn’t go down well either. Instead I got a whole torrent of abuse. I’m a wicked mother. I shouldn’t make jokes. I should know my children are picky (as if that were a badge of honour!). Take it away, take it away, TAKE IT AWAY! (I dread to think what the response would have been had I done what the Royal Shakespeare Company does when it need fresh eyeballs, and uses lychees…)
So you see, we’re not always a home full of harmony. I fail and kids get furious. But it’s ok… we just have to pick ourselves up and move on
Music for fussy eaters includes:
Other activities which could be fun to try alongside reading Fussy Freya include:
So, did I go too far to get this blog post? Would you eat snot and fresh eyeballs?
Disclosure: I received my copy of Fussy Freya from the publishers. This review, nevertheless, reflects my own and honest opinion.