friday feast: Never Take a Pig to Lunch by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Oinkety oink oink!

I’m in hog heaven over Nadine Bernard Westcott’s Never Take a Pig to Lunch: And Other Poems About the Fun of Eating (Orchard Books, 1994)my new all-time favorite anthology of food poetry for children.

How in the world did I miss this one before? Living under a big rock comes to mind. No, wait. There weren’t any blogs when it first came out in 1994 and I was only 3 years old. Yes, yes, that must be it.🙂

But surely ONE of you could have told me about it by now? Ahem!

I just happened to see this book at the library, and after devouring every single page, loved it SO MUCH I had to purchase my own copy. Yes, it’s that good!

There are about 60 poems here — funny, silly, wacky, whimsical, clever, lip-smackingly delicious, totally delightful verses in a nice variety of forms by some of our finest poets and humorists: Ogden Nash, Jack Prelutsky, Florence Parry Heide, Eve Merriam, Mary Ann Hoberman, Steven Kroll, Myra Cohn Livingston, Lilian Moore, X.J. Kennedy, David McCord, Arnold Adoff, Richard Armour, et. al. Even Miss Piggy makes an appearance!

This scrumptious smorgasbord is served up in four uber kid-friendly courses: Poems About Eating Silly Things, Poems About Foods We Like, Poems About Eating Too Much, and Poems About Manners at the Table. For silly things, wrap your lips around a fat juicy worm, a slithery slug, a sliver of icky liver, or a chicken-y rattlesnake. There are also three generous servings of eels, in case you’re into that sort of thing:

I don’t mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.

~ Ogden Nash

Oh, the writhing! I’ll take mine jellied, please.

For Foods We Like, Westcott serves up classic favorites like ever-expanding pizza, lasagna, PBJ, successful pancakes, oodles of noodles and good-for-the-heat snow-cones; while a couple of giants, the lady who swallowed a fly, Greedy Ned, a vulture and a very long croc show us how to pig out with the best of them. Alas, poor pig is nevertheless maligned when it comes to good table manners. Even though we’re cautioned against inviting him to lunch, it just looks like too much fun not to. Are you the sophisticated sort? Nora Ephron has some advice on “How To Eat Like a Child”:

Spinach

Divide into little piles. Rearrange into
new piles. After five or six maneuvers,
sit back and say you are full.

I am equally enamored of Westcott’s quirky, comical, colorful, emotive, exuberant, energetic black ink and acrylic illustrations. I imagine millions of kids have already had the time of their lives poring over every detail: flying olives and donuts, tangles of spaghetti and meatballs, little pizza chefs, hair-stand-on-end hot chili, popcorn avalanche. She makes the most of exaggeration and perspective to ramp up the humor, and each page turn is an even funnier surprise than the last, effectively capturing the many emotions associated with eating, but mostly the sheer joy and glory of food.

This is the kind of book that makes kids fall in love with poetry, and it’s an irresistible gas and a half for reluctant readers. Today I’m serving up a sampler trough: one poem from each of the four sections. Once again, Funny Bone Appétit!

*   *   *

BALONEY!
by Florence Parry Heide

Jim opened his lunchbox
and peered inside.
“I’m hungry, I’m starving,
I’m famished,” he sighed.
“Oh, baloney,” he said.
“It’s baloney again!
I’d like something different,
at least now and then.
Baloney with mustard,
baloney with cheese,
baloney with mayo,
baloney — oh, please.
I’ve had it all week
and the week before that
and the week before that
and the week before THAT.
I’ve had it for lunch
every day of the year.
Baloney, if only
you’d just disappear.”
“Why not make your own sandwich?”
I suggested to him.
“What a brilliant idea —
you’re a genius,” said Jim.
“I do make my own,”
he admitted with pride,
“but baloney’s the only one I’ve ever tried!”

*   *   *

YELLOW BUTTER
By Mary Ann Hoberman

Yellow butter purple jelly red jam black bread

Spread it thick
say it quick

Yellow butter purple jelly red jam black bread

Spread it thicker
say it quicker

Yellow butter purple jelly red jam black bread

Now repeat it
While you eat it

Yellow butter purple jelly red jam black bread

Don’t talk
With your mouth full!

*   *   *

GIANT’S DELIGHTS
by Steven Kroll

Vats of soup
On table trays
Side of shark
With mayonnaise
Haunch of ox
With piles of mice
Mounds of gristle
Served on ice
Bone of mammoth
Head of boar
Whales and serpents
By the score
Tons of cole slaw
Stacks of rabbits
(Giants have such
Piggy habits)
Then, at last,
There comes a stew
Full of buffalo
and ewe
Followed by
Some chocolate cakes
Big enough
For stomachaches

*   *   *

NEVER TAKE A PIG TO LUNCH
by Susan Alton Schmeltz

Never take a pig to lunch.
Don’t invite him home for brunch.
Cancel chances to be fed
Till you’re certain he’s well-bred.

Quiz him! Can he use a spoon?
Does his sipping sing a tune?
Will he slurp and burp and snuff
Till his gurgling makes you gruff?

Would he wrap a napkin ’round
Where the dribbled gravy’s found?
Tidbits nibble? Doughnuts dunk?
Spill his milk before it’s drunk?

Root and snoot through a soup du jour?
Can your appetite endure?
If his manners make you moan,
Better let him lunch alone.

*   *   *

MORE, PLEASE! 

NEVER TAKE A PIG TO LUNCH: And Other Poems About the Fun of Eating
selected and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
published by Orchard Books/Scholastic, 1994
Poetry for Children ages 4+, 64 pp.

OINK.

*   *   *

poetryfriday180Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere today at TeacherDance, where the gracious and talented Linda Baie is serving as today’s host. Wonder if she likes eels.🙂

BURP.

P.S. There’s still time to enter my CHINESE FAIRY TALE FEASTS Giveaway!  Just leave a comment at this post.🙂

*   *   *

wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your bibs and aprons and come join the fun!

 

 

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

60 thoughts on “friday feast: Never Take a Pig to Lunch by Nadine Bernard Westcott

  1. What a fantastic book! And your photos are just superb. I love the wriggly eels – something I’ve never quite got round to trying…

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  2. Was this book written especially for you, Jama? I think so. (Fun to see that Mary Ann Hoberman poem again — my students used to love memorizing it!)

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    1. Yes, I love that poem too — it was nice to see a few old favorites, but many of the poems in this anthology were new to me. And I love having them all in one book!

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    1. Sometimes an anthology will have some really good poems, and some that are just so-so. I liked the consistent quality of the poetry Westcott selected for this book — I pretty much liked all the poems. And I’m a big fan of her art.🙂

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    1. Glad I’m not the only one who missed it. Hope you find a copy at your library too — it’s a treasure especially if you like humorous poetry.

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  3. So much fun! I don’t know this anthology either and can hardly wait to nosh on those poems. Plus, the illustrations are so lively.

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    1. Thanks for making me feel better — I was sure I was the only person who missed this book. Can’t say enough about Westcott’s art — so much energy, so colorful and fun.

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  4. I’m wondering how I missed this too! My daughter had a lengthy pig phase as a toddler/preschooler and I thought my parents had bought her all the pig books there were! This one looks great. Thanks for another wonderful Poetry Friday entry.

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    1. I went through a pig phase too — but as an adult.🙂 This was before the teddy bears took over. This is a great addition to any home or school library.

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  5. It’s like finding buried treasure, coming across a gem like this that managed to escape notice for years! I missed it too. But delighted to get a peek here, and glad to know it can still be found. Those illustrations are perfect! [Mr. Cornelius seems to have really thrown himself (and his food) into this one, and you know I love anything he loves.]

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    1. Yes, buried treasure is a good way to describe it. I kept thinking *someone* must have featured this on a PF before, but I guess not. Mr. Cornelius takes his “job” as blog mascot very seriously. He likes all the sweet rewards.🙂

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    1. I can’t think of any other kids’ food anthology that has so many poems in it. There are good anthologies with food sections in it, but few (it seems) entire books devoted exclusively to food poetry. I hope if someone knows of any others, they will let me know🙂.

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  6. Jama, this is another delightful blog filled with wonderful poetry for children and for me to enjoy when the weather is so cold outside. Reading is a pleasure and you make blog reading an exciting, fanciful journey. I especially liked Steven Kroll’s Giants Delights. I book marked this site and will show the teachers next week.

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  7. I’d never heard of it either! Thank goodness I stopped by here. I placed an order for it at my local library, and I may very well end up following that path to a purchase, like you. We want to do some food poems in our after school poetry class this spring, so it couldn’t have come at a better time. Your presentation here, as always, is so charming. I was laughing all the way through–especially at the parsnips and spinach poems.

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  8. These poems fill me with warmth and coziness, Jama – just what I needed today! Even baloney, not a “food” in my book, somehow sounds delicious and lovely as written about here…and then, of course, there is your presentation, which is such a treat, always.

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  9. I’ve never heard of this book either, Jama! Thanks so much for sharing it with us today. I love the poem:

    “Spinach
    Divide into little piles. Rearrange into
    new piles. After five or six maneuvers,
    sit back and say you are full.”

    I’ve done that a time or two as a child (and maybe as an adult with Kale) =)

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    1. I’m relieved on two counts — that you hadn’t heard of this book either, and because you don’t like kale (thought I was the only one on the planet). 🙂

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  10. OMG — I love this. And I’ve never heard of this book either — not with multiple nieces and nephews and even great nieces and nephews. I laughed out loud a the plastic dead chicken (I *always* love your props), and the poems are terrific. I love that a new generation will meet these poets. Nash is a favorite.

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    1. Cornelius is proud of his rubber chicken — he patiently waits and waits for just the right opportunity to use it in a photo.

      Now I’m amazed that so many had never seen this book before. Thank goodness for blogs — I admit that back in 1994 before there were blogs, I heard very little (if anything) about children’s poetry in general. I didn’t see poetry books displayed prominently in the public library like picture books or novels. But now I hear about new poetry books primarily by reading blogs!

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  11. Jama, I picked up a copy of NEVER TAKE A PIG TO LUNCH: And Other Poems About the Fun of Eating during my library visit. I will now have it ready for the teachers I work with this week. Thank you.

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  12. What a fun book! I can just see my four-year old granddaughter moving her spinach around just like the poem says! I’ll have to see if I can get a copy. It sounds delicious! : )

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    1. Thanks, Esme🙂. If you like the header, you should check out Deidre Weeks’s Etsy Shop, Water in My Paint. You can purchase a print of the header as well as other whimsical watercolors.

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  13. Jama, this book is at this moment lying in a pile in our hallway on its way from my now-teenage daughter’s book collection to my poetry shelf. I treasure it, but as we sorted, I didn’t even stop to open it, so this little walk down culinary lane was a delight. I’m so glad you have finally discovered a true love to rival Colin–and this one you can hold! ; )

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    1. Well, I wouldn’t say it rivals Colin — even though I love it🙂. And you’re one of those people who knew about this book all along but never told me about it. Hmmmmm. That does attest to your very good taste in food poetry, though . . .🙂

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