Findus plants meatballs: gardening disasters to make you and your kids laugh out loud

posted in: Sven Nordqvist | 4

Have you and your kids ever attempted to grow your own vegetables and failed miserably? Maybe the weather’s contrived against you? Or the slugs have slithered wild and destroyed your crops?

findusmeatballsfrontcoverIf so, perhaps Findus Plants Meatballs by Sven Nordqvist will put a wry smile on your face.

Pettson, a crochety but ultimately kind and charming old man lives on a small homestead in the countryside, with a mischievous cat, Findus, as his only real family. Spring has arrived and it’s time to plant their vegetable patch.

But try as they might, the odds are not in their favour. First the chickens dig up the newly planted seeds. Then a neighbour’s pig escapes and runs riot. Should Findus and Pettson just give up on vegetables altogether? (Many a child reader/listener might well cheer at this point!)

Slapstick humour abounds in this seasonal tale full of optimism and utter chaos. It’s is also great for starting discussions about where food comes from (tying in with the primary school ‘field-to-fork’ topic rather nicely).

Fans already familiar with Pettson and Findus (this is the seventh Findus and Pettson book now translated into English and published by Hawthorne Press) will delight in familiar tropes; the threat of the fox, the problematic fellow farmer Gustavsson, the crazy DIY projects and the mysterious mini magical folk. If you’re new to this utterly delightful Swedish import the ramshackle illustrations teeming with life and laughter will quickly win you over.





You’ll be infinitely richly rewarded for spending time pouring of the illustrations; even in choosing just a few cameos to share with you today, we’ve discovered many more visual jokes, even though this must be the 20th time we’ve read the book.

Charismatic characters, high jinks, and heart-warming friendship combined with witty, surprising and satisfying illustrations all add up to another winner from Sven Nordqvist.

We’ve been reading this funny book down on our allotment in between planting our vegetables and flowers for this year.



And just like Findus, the girls said they wanted to see what would happen if they planted meatballs. So I called their bluff, and said that of course they could plant meatballs (along with carrots, onions and beans)…


And thus a new family dinner was created! A field of mashed potato made the most fertile ground for planting sauted onions, carrots, steamed beans, and – of course – some extra special meatballs.



Whilst planting our meatballs we listened to:

  • On top of spaghetti (all covered in cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed), here sung by Tom Glazer
  • One Meatball by Fred Mollin (from the film Ratatouille) – here’s an older version (lovely, but not quite a jazzy as the Disney version):
  • My Favorite Meatball by Danna Banana (Meatballs the world over unite!)

  • Other great activities to go along with reading Findus Plants Meatballs include:

  • Exploring the garden activities over on NurtureStore. Cathy produces handy month by month guides to getting planting, playing and harvesting with your family.
  • Making some bird houses to put up in your garden. Pettson and Findus’s world is full of little cottages up in the trees and you might find inspiration to add one or two to your outdoor space on this Pinterest board.
  • Creating your own flock of chickens out of old plastic pots. Pettson’s chicks are white, but I do think these from have the right sort of attitude and funkiness to be friends (?!) with Pettson and Findus.
  • Reading How to Grow a Dinosaur by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Ed Eaves. After all, if you can plant meatballs, why not dinosaurs?

  • Have you any vegetable planting horror stories you can share with me? Or enormously successful tales of child-friendly seed sowing?

    Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    4 Responses

    1. Catherine

      We love Pettson and Findus, a lot of the stories have also been translated into German, they’re so full of humour.

      We have kebab sticks dotted around the garden to show where my daughter planted apple pips in February (no sign of anything growing yet though!). A day after we planted them she decided she should make a sign saying apples for sale. Luckily she doesn’t sen too disappointed by the lack of progress but that’s part of learning about gardening 🙂
      Catherine recently posted..Introducing new experiences through picture books (and win a book in our first giveaway hop!)

    2. Emma Perry

      I love those illustrations – thanks for the peek!!

      Well, all I can say is that the snails are currently enjoying our lettuces … a little bit too much!

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