Although this is a picture book, Zeke Will Not Eat! is written for parents as well. Delin Colón , the author, has a background in clinical psychology.
Zeke is not interested in eating. He hates having his play disrupted for mealtime and in rebellion cries and pouts throughout the meal. His parents are concerned for his health. His father passes on a technique his father used with him. They arrange the food on the plate to represent a little town. Zeke pretends he is a giant and destroys the town by eating it. By making it a game and encouraging Zeke to feel as though he has power and control, the onus is off the parents to convince Zeke of the value of eating properly.
This strategy is definitely worth a try. No matter how well-meaning parents are, mealtime can easily become a battleground. It might be fun to take it even one step further and have the child help select the food and build the structure or village he is going to consume. There are also numerous ideas online for turning food into three-dimensional art.
I’m not sure if I would read this to the child before attempting this strategy or after. Parents know their children best.
The second component about this book that is definitely worth sharing, with children and adults alike, are the unique illustrations. Delin Colón, both the author and illustrator, has used an unusual style of cut-paper art. The same 150 paper shapes are arranged and rearranged to create pictures of Zeke in a variety of activities. Once you understand the creative and problem-solving effort that went into using this technique, the illustrations are worth a second look. Delin Colón has included instructions at the back of the text for parents to try out this novel endeavour with their child. However, I would reassure my child that they did not have to use all the shapes in every picture.
An introductory activity to this might be using tangrams. Depending on the age of the child, a bucket full of geometric shapes could work just as well.
This book is worth obtaining for either the valuable conflict-free strategy for dealing with picky eaters or the unusual illustrations.
The author will be reviewed on this blog May 3, 2017.
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