FICTION

Mr. Crum's Potato Predicament

illus. by Felicita Sala. 40p. bibliog. photos. Kids Can. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781771386197. POP
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 3—In the mid-1800s, a gregarious gastronome named George Crum cooked for the people who visited Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, NY. One day a particularly picky, punctilious customer requested a plateful of potatoes. Again and again, the customer, Mr. Filbert P. Horsefeathers, returned the potatoes to the kitchen, each time asking for thinner, tastier potatoes. In a final, exasperated effort, Crum sliced them as thinly as possible, fried them to a crisp, and then sprinkled them with an abundance of salt. What began as a joke ended with a food product still hugely popular today—potato chips. The narrative, loosely based on the real story, is stuffed with meaty morsels of juicy, often alliterative big words like scrumptious, sublime, and succulent. The story begs to be read aloud so that listeners can savor the sound of the luscious language while picking up some very sophisticated, multisyllabic words. It could also be a good opportunity for children to conduct a readers' theater rendition—with plenty of practice. While Mr. Horsefeathers comes across as a somewhat exaggerated figure for comedic effect, the notes and photographs at the book's end relate the real story behind Crum's legacy. The illustrations, done in watercolor and colored pencil, vividly convey the people and dress of the era.
VERDICT This title has a lot of potential for classroom use for literacy development (prosody, vocabulary), reading aloud, and any study of food. Just say "potato chips" and students will be clamoring to read.

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