Sometimes, if your child doesn’t seem to take to a particular book — or at least as much as you’d hoped — don’t be dismayed: it could be a case of ‘right book, wrong time’. Shelf it and reintroduce it again some time later. Case in point: the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child. The first C&L book we read was I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed — that was more than half a year ago. At the time, while the story did engage my 3.5-year-old son, some of the nuanced humour was lost on him. Fast-forward to the present, however, and such lost-in-translation problems are a thing of the past. As it turns out, the language and humour of the Charlie and Lola books are absolutely spot-on for four-year-olds (and probably five- and six-year-olds too).
While any kid in the right age bracket will likely enjoy the Charlie and Lola books, there’s something extra-special about the books being read by real-life ‘Charlies’ and ‘Lolas’, i.e. big brothers and their precocious sisters — albeit when the latter are slightly more grown-up. Somehow, the author has managed to capture the essence of the heartwarming relationship between a patient and mature big brother and his somewhat petulant and unreasonable little sister in this fresh and funny series of books — among which I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato probably ranks as the almost-unanimous favourite of C&L fans.
In this book, when Charlie is tasked to feed his ‘fussy’ sister dinner, he comes up with a brilliant and imaginative strategy to circumvent her long list of ‘won’t-eats’, on which tomatoes unjustly rank at the very top, and successfully persuade her to try them.
The funny thing is, once Lola tastes the different vegetables and fruits, she finds that she actually doesn’t mind them all that much. But just when Charlie thinks he has hoodwinked Lola into eating her dinner, she manages to surprise him — and us — with an unexpected request…
The signature quirky mixed-media illustrations of the series combined with the siblings’ sparkling dialogue makes for a sweet, hilarious and original take on a frustrating situation that both kids and parents can relate to — and which may just encourage a fussy eater to try something that he or she would otherwise “never not ever” eat!