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Katy England Katy England
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Gregory, Gregory Hates his Food'

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Great pictures, mixed message

For many people with young children, dinnertime is a battlefield of coaxing, thrown foodand utter refusal. There is a lot of advice that surrounds how to get kids to eat and enticing them to try new things. Many parents are searching for this holy grail of knowledge. Alas, like many things in life, there is no easy answer - but that doesn't stop people from trying to find it. Nor does it stop people from trying to pitch their idea.

'Gregory, Gregory Hates His Food,' by Muffy Kashkin Grollier (Balboa Press, $13.95) tackles this issue with brightly colored felt illustrations of a fiery, ginger-haired Gregory refusing to eat various beautifully illustrated foodstuffs ranging from turnips and collard greens to chicken and carrots.

The pictures are dynamic, brightly colored and engaging. Grollier uses a needle-felting technique to illustrate the book, which gives the pictures a mix of two- to three-dimensional looks. You kind of want to snuggle up with the images.

Unfortunately, pretty pictures aren't enough to carry this book to the next level, as the story (such as it is) falls flat. You have Gregory, who, as the title suggests won't eat. And watch out, here come the spoilers: What brings about the change of heart for Greg deciding to eat is not some suggestion of his trying new things, or a desire to taste something new - it's his growing a new set of teeth. This seems somewhat unfair to parents of children who won't get their new set of teeth for several years; it also calls into question just how Gregory is still thriving despite not having eaten any kind of food for the first three years of his life.

In other words, it's a cute book with no real meaning behind it (which puts in in good company). And who knows? Grollier might even be right, but that will come as cold comfort to those who still have their food thrown to the floor.

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