The Gigantic Sweet Potato by Dianne de Las Casas

How did it get to be November already? I feel like I’m coming back to Narnia – could more than a day have passed since my last post – or has it really been several hundred years? At any rate, today I’m reviewing another picture book from New Orleans publisher, Pelican.

The Gigantic Sweet Potato by Dianne de Las Casas, illustrated by Marita Gentry, is an adaptation of a Russian folktale known as “The Giant Turnip”.  Here’s a little disclaimer: I know Dianne as a member of the south Louisiana community of children’s authors – and I’ve seen her perform as a storyteller. I think she does a great job engaging the kids and she’s very fun to watch in action.

Having said that, this book is a hoot! It follows the oral storytelling tradition at its finest. Repetition and predictability lend to the story’s charm and you find yourself rooting (pardon the pun) for Ma Farmer to finally get that darn thing out of the ground. I’ve seen Dianne do this story out loud with an auditorium full of elementary school students and it’s quite a hit as a performance piece. Marita Gentry’s gentle illustrations are a perfect complement to the story. Ma’s Sweet Potato Pie recipe and a fact page about sweet potatoes complete the package – just in time for the holidays. Where’s my pie dish?

Genres: Picturebook, Folklore

Things to like about this book: It’s fun. The bigger the group of kids, the more fun it will be. It is a perfect companion to preschool and kindergarten units on gardening, cooking, AND cooperation.

Audience:Preschool through Lower elementary school. Perfect for read aloud and audience participation story time.

Reviewed from: Hardcover provided by publisher