________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 2. . . .September 11, 2009


Edgar, Allan, and Poe and the Tell-Tale Beets.

Natalie Rompella. Illustrated by François Ruyer.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-897550-17-5.

Kindergarten-grade-6 / Ages 5-11.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4



Edgar did not like the squishy squash their mother served. Allan despised the liquidy liver that still looked alive. Bouncy balls of Brussels sprouts made Poe want to barf.

But they especially hated beets. Beets were so red, so slimy, and so hard to hide. Edgar, Allan, and Poe often got no dessert.

Until... the three boys discovered a loose floorboard underneath Poe's chair.


Right from the cover showing three comical kids in bibs fearfully confronted by a mysterious reddish-purple 'something,' this book is a hoot. The 'something' turns out to be a ghastly conglomeration of beets, liver, Brussels sprouts, cucumber soup, squash—all foods that the three boys despise and have cleverly hidden under a loose floorboard—or so they think—so their mother will serve dessert. First the odor haunts them. Is it a giant's smelly feet? An alien's bad breath? A burping dragon? Then the sound—"beet, beet, beet"—grows ever louder until it drives Poe to admit what the three have been doing. At that point, the blob erupts from below splattering one and all with a disgusting mess. As the boys face a plate of "yucky yams with a parsley garnish" as punishment, their father hammers down the floorboards. The final page is a rib-tickling surprise: who should be seen hiding father's hated peas under the one remaining loose floorboard? For anyone who has heard, "No dessert until you eat all of that!" or tried to make their least favorite foods go away (I used to tuck bread crusts under the edges of my plate), this story will reassure them they are not alone.

internal art     This engaging picture book works on several levels. For the youngest audience, it's an imaginative, suspense-filled and hilarious tale of dinnertime high jinks in which colorful animated illustrations enhance the fun experience. For an older audience who may recognize (or be introduced to) its inspiration—the classic short story, "The Beating of the Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe—there's the chance to enjoy this clever takeoff that shows guilt and consequences in such a witty way. For anyone who is lucky enough to hear it read aloud, the alluring language will delight: "The beets slipped into the hole with a splosh...," "The soup spattered and the squash squished." The story is rich in repetition, alliteration and onomatopoeia punctuated by the rising rhythm of the offending foods, "the beating of the beets!" This is a picture book for everyone.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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