BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bea Reviews Eat, Leo! Eat! by Caroline Adderson

Publisher: Kids Can Press 
Format Read:  eGalley 
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Release Date: April 1, 2015
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

Leo wants no part of sitting down with his family to eat Nonna's big, delizioso lunch every Sunday. "I'm not hungry," he insists. Not hungry? Hmm. Clever Nonna gets an idea. She'll use a story to lure Leo to her table. And since the pasta in her soup, called stelline (little stars), is woven into the story about a boy who journeys to his grandmother's at night, it works. But again on the following Sunday, Leo doesn't want to eat. So Nonna expands her story, this time adding some chiancaredde (paving stones), the name of the pasta she's serving that day, to create a path for her character to follow. Now Leo's hooked. So much that he begins to badger Nonna every Sunday to reveal more pasta-based details of the story. And week by week, as Leo's relatives crowd around listening to Nonna and teasing Leo to get him to mangia (eat), he slowly comes to realize just how happy he is to have a place at this table. In this heartwarming picture book, award-winning author Caroline Adderson beautifully captures the love and tenderness Leo feels from his grandmother and the rest of his close-knit family through lively, true-to-life dialogue. The playful, detailed artwork by Jos?e Bisaillon helps bring all of them to life. This book offers a perfect framework for lessons exploring the heritage, customs and relationships of families. The unique story-within-a-story concept, along with the idea that Nonna's tale is being told cumulatively, could easily launch a storytelling assignment. Additionally, the section on pasta and the list of Italian vocabulary words make a great introduction to foreign cultures through food and language.

Bea's Thoughts:

Most parents can relate to a child not wanting to eat; it seems every child goes through phases as they grow up. My one real complaint was that no one in the story made any attempt to find out why Leo wasn't hungry- he'd just eaten not long ago and was full, he doesn't like boisterous crowds, he doesn't like the food, etc. Without any evidence presented to support their conclusion, everyone acts as if he's just being difficult. Poor boy. 

Putting that issue aside, this was a fun and clever story. Leo, his parents, and their extended family have Sunday dinner every week at his nonna's house. Every week, Leo says he's not hungry. Leo's nonna wisely doesn't force the issue of his eating but gently lures him in via the magic of storytelling. She begins a story that continues each week and adds elements that pertain to whatever form of pasta they are eating that week. Leo's nonna is a clever story teller, incorporating disparate elements and knowing just how to whet the listener's appetite for the next installment. Leo begins to eat, though the first few weeks he still hides and says he's not hungry. But as the weeks go by, he stops saying he's not hungry and even helps his nonna make that week's pasta from scratch.   

Apart from the family's unwillingness find out exactly why Leo doesn't want to eat, the story shows a grandmother's love and one family's traditions as well as gently introduces readers to different varieties of pasta, gives a very brief overview of pasta in Italian eating habits, and there's even a glossary with pronunciation guide for the Italian words used in the story. 
The artwork changes to suit what's happening in the book. In the main story, the colors are soft and there are details but in the story within a story, the artwork looks more like a child did it, there are fewer details, and the colors are darker, in keeping with the tone of nonna's story. The choice of watercolors works well, keeping the pictures from being overly bright. 

Children and adults will both enjoy the story, especially its gentle humor and nonna's cleverness.


  1. Good review, Bea! I like the sound of this book, though I agree on the drawback (not having the family ask why Leo isn't hungry.) Sounds like a charming book and one young children will enjoy.

    1. It was charming, apart from family's utter disregard for Leo's lack hunger. :)

  2. Sounds like a cute one...though I agree that it sounds like they didn't delve into the deeper issue!

    1. It is a cute book if you can ignore the family's thoughtlessness.


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