Title: Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament
Author: Anne Renaud
Major Themes: Food, Potato Chips, Restaurants
Synopsis: A master chef invented potato chips in response to a picky patron at his restaurant.
We loved Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament! Some of my favorite books to read to my little people are picture books that tell a real story, or at least a fictionalized version of a real story. Our local library doesn’t have very many like that that, but sometimes I can find one online to review. The most recent was this one, and I love the sentence inside the front cover: “The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth.”
Mr. Crum loved to cook. He loved to cook so much that he opened his own restaurant, and his regular patrons considered him the best cook in the county—and he had a wonderful waitress named Gladys. All was well until one day, when a most peculiar-looking man appeared in the restaurant and trumpeted that his name was Filbert P. Horsefeathers—and the P stands for Punctilious! And what does this peculiar man want to eat? Potatoes!
So, Mr. Crum cooks up a batch of delicious potatoes—but Filbert sends them back with Gladys, saying they aren’t right. Mr. Crum tries again…and again…and finally, in desperation, slices his potatoes paper-thin. What next? Well, if you read this story to your five-year-old, he may decide, the next day, as mine did, that he needs to make some potato chips. (Yes, I helped him do it, and he and his brother decided they were the best potatoes they had had in a long time—but I don’t plan a repeat performance very soon!)
I absolutely loved the vocabulary in this story. Most of it will be above the heads of most little children, but it’s a great way to introduce some of these words in a gentle way (I didn’t bother explaining them, but they heard the words, at least). For example, Mr. Crum fricasséed and flambéed, boiled and braised, poached and puréed. And, his spuds were scrumptious, succulent, and sublime! This book was fun to read. If you have a child who loves stories about food, or just plain loves to be read to, look for this book. You won’t regret reading it at least once. (Just plan ahead for making potato chips—you may get a request to do so!)
I almost forgot to mention that George Crum was a real person; don’t fail to read the historical note at the end.
I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley and chose to write a review.
Listening Level—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12