Sunday, May 15, 2016

What's So Yummy?


What's So Yummy? Robie H. Harris. Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. 2014. Candlewick Press. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Everybody everywhere needs to eat and drink.

Premise/plot: What's So Yummy is an informational picture book about being healthy: eating right, being active, getting plenty of rest. There is a slight story element to this one. Readers meet a family preparing to go on a picnic. Gus and Nellie are the kids in the story. What little story there is comes from their dialogue--all found in speech bubbles. The narrative is more focused on packing as much information as possible into each page. One definitely always knows that this is an EDUCATIONAL book rather than an entertaining one.

My thoughts: I thought the information in this one was fairly accurate. Even though it's published in 2014, it still seems to be (wrongly) advocate a low fat diet. Granted, I wasn't excepting a picture book to go into detail about distinguishing between good, healthy fat that is essential for your body and bad, unhealthy fat which is detrimental to your body. So perhaps if there is only going to be one sentence in the entire book about fat, I guess one could do worse than eat "just a little fat, oil, and salt."

The book never asserts how many servings per day of any one food group one should be eating. It uses words like "plenty," "some," and "just a little." The good news is that "whole grains, brown rice, cereal, and pasta aren't in the "plenty" category. I would have rather seen them in the "just a little" category, but one can't have everything. (I think two to three servings is as much as anyone really truly ever needs per day.) The only thing in the "plenty" group is fruits and vegetables.

Does the book have an opinion on sugar? Yes. I'm not sure it's quite strong enough. But it does warn against eating too much sugar and warns against drinking sugary drinks (fruit juices and soda). The book only focuses on the most obvious places to find sugar. The truth is sugar is a not-so-hidden hidden ingredient in many, many, many products. (Think of how many thousands of products high-fructose corn syrup is in.) Between sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners there are dangers everywhere. Sugar isn't just in cookies or candy. It's in yogurt, crackers, cereal, lunch meat, ketchup, dressings and sauces. To name just a few.

One statement struck me as a bit misleading or untrue. "Most everybody eats fruit and vegetables." While it's certainly true that most people don't object morally to eating fruit and vegetables, earlier sentences were about how some people choose to not eat any meat, I don't think one can say this sentence is actually true. The American diet, the so-called "Western" diet testifies to the fact that most people are not actually eating vegetables and fruit on a regular, consistent basis. French fries and potato chips are not vegetables. Tomato sauce and ketchup are not vegetables. True, one might find some lettuce, a tomato, a few pickles, a few onions on a hamburger or cheeseburger, but their slight presence does not make it a healthy meal by any stretch!

It does briefly--oh-so-briefly--talk about food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances. Since this is close to my heart--I'm allergic to eggs, intolerant of dairy and gluten--I appreciate their attempt at an explanation.  It is not the focus of the book by any stretch!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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