Prather’s Pick: ‘Little Sweet Potato’ teaches about appreciating ourselves, others
Sweet potatoes are popular this time of the year, with Thanksgiving and all, but you’ve probably never seen a sweet potato like the leading character in this week’s picture book for children.
“Little Sweet Potato” was written by Amy Beth Bloom and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. This 2012 publication is a Katherine Tecen Book, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.
The story opens in the sweet potato section of a garden, where some sweet potatoes are snoozing in the rich soil. They are big enough so that they stick out of the dirt. That’s where Little Sweet Potato has lived all his life. But, that all ends one day, when the farmer drives his tractor over the patch.
The farmer doesn’t seem to notice that the tractor has shaken up the ground, causing the sweet potatoes to hang onto their vines for dear life. Little Sweet Potato is knocked completely loose, and he rolls out of the patch and down a little embankment, right into a ditch. There, he is, upside down, with his eyes above ground.
What to do? He has no idea how to get back home. So, Little Sweet Potato finds his way to the road, where he rolls along until he comes to a carrot patch inhabited by some mighty unfriendly carrots. They say the sweet potato is lumpy, dumpy and bumpy, adding that he certainly doesn’t belong in their carrot patch. One of the carrots even sticks out its tongue.
Little Sweet Potato gets out of there as quickly as possible, rolling along until he comes to a patch of eggplants. These big old vegetables think they’re pretty hot in their smooth purple skins. They tell Little Sweet Potato that he’s dumpy, bumpy and kinda lumpy and that he needs to scram.
It isn’t easy being rejected this way, but Little Sweet Potato is “down but not out.” He rolls right along and asks a bunch of flowers if he can move in with them. They’re pretty but also horribly rude. Once again, they say that the sweet potato is lumpy, dumpy and bumpy, and they’re beautiful and make faces as he rolls away.
Little Sweet Potato keeps rolling along, meeting other fruits and vegetables. Each time, he gets the same reception; they don’t like his lumpiness, dumpiness and bumpiness. It appears that Little Sweet Potato is all alone. A tear rolls down his sweet potato face. But, just then, he hears a voice.
The voice calls him “bumpalicious” and says he’s neat and that his skin has a gorgeous sunset color. The voice calls him a sweet potato. (Little Sweet Potato didn’t know that’s what he was.) So, Little Sweet Potato rolls right over to Hodge Podge Patch, where there is a vacancy. Lots of vegetablesr and flowers live there, and this is a very different neighborhood, compared to what he’s encountered before.
The inhabitants of this garden teach Little Sweet Potato a lesson about appreciating himself. (The illustration of the underground potato with numerous eyes is adorable.)
“Little Sweet Potato” costs $16.99 in hardcover. It is also available at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.