Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

posted in: Katharine Quarmby, Piet Grobler | 31

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.

And why?

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:

  • I Hate Vegetables by Gary Pane
  • He Eats Asparagus by Barry Louis Polisar
  • I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato by Charlie and Lola (based on the book with the same title by Lauren Child)


  • Other activities which could be fun to try alongside reading Fussy Freya include:

  • Making a giraffe cake! Search google images for “giraffe cake” to get lots of ideas – I particularly like this one.
  • Trying some real, unusual food – if you have access to the BBC iPlayer you and your kids might enjoy Incredible Edibles – a children’s programme in which all sorts of scientific food based exploration takes place and kids try food like brains and duck tongues!
  • Inviting all your soft toys to a tea party (you could either pretend to eat them like Freya, or role play that they were fussy eaters).


  • 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.

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    31 Responses

    1. Oh goodness! My little one would do the same thing… quite frankly, I’m not even sure she would listen to the book!
      Stacey recently posted..Got Me Again

    2. Curiously enough Stacey, my extra fussy eater (M) is fascinated by the book – perhaps it’s an early version of why some people read zombie books – some sort of enjoyment out of the “grossness” of it?
      Zoe recently posted..Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

    3. What a funny post.
      I honestly can’t believe your girls passed on the ice cream !
      Jackie Small (@littlebookcase) recently posted..Book Review and Home Olympics inspiration: Koala Lou by Mem Fox

      • Jackie, me too! “normally” they would eat vanilla icecream (though I remember the day well when we had the breakthrough with it – up until then they’d only touch chocolate icecream) – but it clearly looked too disgusting, even when I pointed out it had raspberry syrup (eldest will eat raspberries if she can pick them off the bush) and chocolate on it…

    4. This sounds like a great book for my eldest who is also extremely fussy (last night’s declaration was that she no longer thinks chips are yummy!) I have been thinking of making food with her that has been inspired by books we’ve read but I like the idea of some reverse psychology like this!

      • Ah bookaholic mum, I wish you the success I didn’t have with reverse psychology! I was really hoping they might see the fun side of it, but no :-(

    5. Great blog, I think sometimes we’re alway wicked parents! I have also gone through the fussy eater stage and eventually you find yourself trying anything, as long as it’s legal! I found Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes a great help, that and an abundance of patience. Eldest almost drove me to drink, but it was just a phase, as my mother would (and often did) say.

      • Thanks Natasha, I know I’m in it for the long haul, and patience and good humour in good doses are vital to keep us going! I haven’t tried any of the Revolting Recipes yet- perhaps I should – but am worried that again they’d get rejected. That’s the hardest bit – making new dishes and having them rejected…

    6. Ha! I always LOVE to make my children cry (nyhahaha- wicked mother laugh)
      I remember once force feeding morsels of chocolate pancake into Bill’s sobbing face screaming “THEY’RE DELICIOUS FOR GOODNESS SAKE”
      (not my proudest moment possibly)
      Revolting Recipes almost entirely deep fried and/or coated in sugar and thus very popular in this house.
      Polly recently posted..In the Forest

      • Polly, I can hear the wicked laughter from here! Thanks for the summary of Revolting recipes – sounds like *I* would love them!

    7. Can I add:-
      Vegetable Glue by Susan Chandler to that list?
      My eldest eats about 11 foods in total, dinner is usually cottage cheese and crackers. He eats Shreddies, tofu, bread, fromage frais, some cheddars and in terms of fruit and veg only our home-grown strawberries and the very occasional apple. He’s having hypnotherapy to try and help at the moment, fingers crossed! His little brother pretends to be that fussy too-I know exactly where you’re coming from!

      • Oh Jenny, my heart goes out to you! M’s total number of food is somewhere near your eldest’s so I can really sympathise.

    8. Oh dear, What a wicked mother ;-) I am tempted to try this with my fusspots too. The expressions in the photos are priceless. And no, I don’t think it counts as torture!
      Helen D recently posted..The Wrong Book

      • Phew, Helen, glad that even if my kids can’t see the funny side of this, at least you can :-)

    9. It sounds like a great book. Who wouldn’t want to eat a bowl of snot? My 2 year old has just discovered the joys of picking her nose, so she would no doubt love it. I think your ice-cream eyeballs are wonderful.
      Melissa @ Honey Bee Books recently posted..Friday’s Favourites #7

    10. This looks like such a great book! Goes right on the reading list!!! A perfect addition to our top favourite: Magisk monstermad (Magical monster food) by Shane Brox, although I don’t think it’s translated into English. It’s filled with recipes of trolls’ snot, spider sandwiches, fried baby bottoms and witch fingers! My kids think that the more disgusting it is the merrier. I suppose I belong to the minority of moms who is often requested to have shrimps risotto with beetroot salad for dinner.

    11. Thank you Zoe for a very funny review of Fussy Freya – and some great ideas on getting children to eat! My daughter Josie (the inspiration for Freya) now eats everything except turnips and porridge (and she’s not keen on warthog). I love the recipes…

      • Thankyou Katharine for stopping by! And thank you for such a fun book. Turnips and porridge? Sounds like a Heston Blumenthal recipe!

    12. Well you know me, Z, I am on the other side – I am utterly useless at crafty stuff but my kids eat nearly everything LOL. We all have our strengths, and our weaknesses, nobody is perfect ;0)
      Library Mice recently posted..Famous Five at 70

    13. Library Mice, we should get together to create the perfect team ;-)
      Zoe recently posted..Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

    14. Ah, we went through a fussy phase here too. In fact Holly does have sensory issues, which we didn’t know about, but that still wouldn’t have made much difference. I got that Charlie and Lola book for her, in the hope that humour might sway her to relax her ideas, but it never worked. She’s always been able to suss out my motives. Oddly though, while she’s a fussy eater she does love things that many children’s wouldn’t. For example, she likes pickled herrings (one of my faves as a child), olives and anything salty and vinegary. Now she’s older she’s much braver and will try things. But I sympathise with your plight and I don’t think you’re a wicked mummy at all, just a mummy with a wicked sense of humour! ;-)
      Sam recently posted..Holly’s essential guide to holiday French

    15. We all have might have our strengths and challenges – as someone above rightly pointed, but one thing we do have for sure – a sense of humour, so perfectly fine to ‘torture’ the kids sometimes!

      By the way this is my break from sorting mountains of books. Been at it for hours now. Simply cannot give away some treasured picture books though my kids have totally outgrown them. So I decided to keep them. Trouble is – the ‘treasured’ pile keeps growing while the give-away pile remains tiny :( :)

    16. Hi Sam, mmm pickled herrings! But I’ve yet to try the dutch favourite, raw herring…

      Oh choxbox, what a job! what a _difficult_ job…Hope you are at least rediscovering some old favourites.
      Zoe recently posted..Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

    17. Hi Zoe, sure! I really appreciate everything he does. He has a programme on Danish TV where he builds up right in front of you the whole fairy tale world and tells stories with characters he invents. Very inspirational for anyone who likes glitter and glue :) I wish it was easier to share things like that monster tutorial of his: http://www.familiejournal.dk/Jul/Julepynt/2011/2011a/47-Shane-brox-granmonster.aspx

    18. What a great-sounding book! I love Lynne Rickards’ I Do Not Eat The Colour Green and read it to my nephew. Unfortunately he then chanted the refrain to my sister every time she attempted to get him to eat a vegetable! Funnily enough he will eat fish, but still very few vegetables.
      Ali B recently posted..Review: Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian

    19. Ha ha Ali… that’s the problem with books isn’t it ;-) But I do Not eat the Colour Green is indeed a super one, worth of repeating / taunting one’s mother with!
      Zoe recently posted..Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

    20. Enjoyed this post. Cannot believe anyone would refuse those eyeballs, nom nom. Send them to me! :D
      jama recently posted..summer blog hiatus

    21. Thanks Jama – I DID enjoy the eyeballs (being the only one home who would eat them!)
      Zoe recently posted..Kidlit radio #25

    22. Oh Zoe, your girl’s faces are PRICELESS!! Hilarious indeed. I wonder how my two would react. I guess some children LOVE it and some HATE it.

      Maggy
      (Still chuckling)

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