Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Over-Analyzing a Children’s Picture Book

Most children’s books require suspension of disbelief. We know that Rainbow Fish can’t really talk, let alone hand out his shimmering scales to all of his friends. We know that the Velveteen Rabbit couldn’t have turned real and we know that the Berenstain Bears couldn’t possibly have that many identical outfits.

Reading picture books can get a little repetitive over time--always a happy ending and a lesson to be learned. But every once in awhile I like to sit down and think about the implications of a picture book universe. How do the characters interact with one another? And what does that tell us about the society in the story functions?

Which brings us to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are enjoying their time as leftovers in the fridge when they are informed that there is only one drop of maple syrup left. They take off, racing each other across what appears to be an incredibly spacious fridge for the syrup. They face all sorts of perils, like Chili Lagoon, Sauerkraut Peak and a bean avalanche. Finally, they reach the syrup, only to find that Barron Von Waffle has already beaten them to it. The royals admit defeat and decide to share some butter instead.

This book left me with more questions than answers. It seems as though all food is sentient in this story. Each food item has two little eyes and a tiny smile and can talk. So I was understandably concerned with Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast went off in search of the last drop of syrup to drink. Is the syrup not sentient? Are they not racing to see who can eat their food friend first? Do their royal titles grant them the power to consume whomever they please? And just who established what appears to be a breakfast food monarchy?

Turns out that the syrup bottle was alive, not the syrup itself; this was a relief. That being said, the pair of breakfast items then turn their attention to a smiling stick of butter. I am very worried for that butter and for the owner of the fridge; he seems to have way too many left-overs.

All joking aside, this is an adorable book. It’s an enjoyable read, even if the rhymes sometimes feel a little forced. It would make a great read before lunch or dinner. And who knows, maybe you and your kids could come up with some new royal titles for your food and overthrow this oppressive breakfast food monarchy.

If you looking for some other delicious reads try checking out If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant by Ellen Fischer, Food Trucks! by Mark Todd, or Letter Lunch by Elisa Gutierrez.


1 comment:

  1. I certainly had the same concerns when I first read this book. For those with this reaction, maybe it makes one wonder about those things in the fridge that at one point actually were sentient beings ... food for thought!