________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012


The Very Lonely Sandwich.

Nicole Petroski. Art by Lynda Regan.
Winnipeg, MB: Purple Tuesday Press (www.purpletuesdaypress.com), 2008.
32 pp., stapled, $11.95.
ISBN 978-0-9782737-1-2.

Subject Headings:

Sandwiches-Juvenile Fiction.
Nutrition-Juvelnile Fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*½ /4



Once upon a time, there was a very lonely sandwich. It was made of two pieces of bread and a very very very thin layer of low-fat butter.

The very lonely sandwich cried, “Oh me, oh my! I feel so empty inside!”

With The Very Lonely Sandwich, Petroski has utilized the form of the traditional cumulative tale in which action and dialogue repeat and build up as the story progresses. According to a blurb on the back cover, Petroski “wrote The Very Lonely Sandwhich when her niece asked her to write a ‘ten minute story’ about mayonnaise.” A sandwich consisting of just two slices of buttered bread feels lonely and empty inside. When the lonely sandwich meets a piece of mild cheddar cheese, “the sandwich fell in love at first sight” and invites the cheese to join him. The cheese slice agrees, and the sandwich becomes a “delicious cheese sandwich with a very very very thin layer of low-fat butter.” Despite the addition of the cheese slice, the sandwich still feels that something is missing. The pattern of adding additional sandwich fillings repeats three more times, with the two pieces of bread adding a slice of garden fresh tomato, a spinach leaf and finally some “secret sauce.” With the addition of each filling item, Petroski adds to the adjectives describing the sandwich. Unfortunately, she does not do so in an entirely consistent fashion and, thereby, she reduces the expected opportunities in a cumulative tale for young readers to participate in the telling of the story by joining in on the repeating text portions.

internal art

     Although the cumulative effect of the adjectives describing the sandwich’s growth is effective, the storyline, itself, is very thin, and cause and effect are frequently missing, with the sandwich’s instant love and the object of his affection immediately responding positively being two examples.

     Petroski’s text refers to the sandwich as “it”, but Lynda Regan’s illustrations, which appear to be rendered in watercolour, portray the sandwich as male and the fillings as female. Though Regan anthropomorphises the story’s inanimate objects, her attempt to give them “character” really does not succeed. Given that youngsters will likely have recognized the first three fillings as things they have encountered and perhaps even eaten, Regan’s decision to make the secret sauce a purple colour seems odd in that its unfamiliarity could distance readers from the book’s story.

     The slight storyline, coupled with weak illustrations, cause this book to be....

Not recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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