Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat: Story Summary
Gregory, a young goat, just won't eat the things that regular goats want to eat. He eats healthy food—and his parents are worried! Gregory the Terrible Eater is a tale about healthy eating and nutrition and is a clever twist on the usual problem of parents whose picky eaters refuse to eat what is put in front of them.
Instead of eating "junk" food (cardboard boxes, old tires, and the like), Gregory wants to eat scrambled eggs, fruit, vegetables, and spaghetti. When Gregory's parents take him to Doctor Ram, Gregory explains, "I eat what I like."
Gregory's parents gradually introduce the appropriate goat food into Gregory's diet until Gregory concedes that he would like to have two pieces of waxed paper with his scrambled eggs and toast.
Parents will appreciate how author Mitchell Sharmat treats picky eating with a wry twist of humor and will recognize some of the ways parents try to help their children try new things.
Many books address the subject of food by featuring appealing and colorful illustrations of nutritious foods, but this book is different and, I believe, unique in the children's-book universe. Because nutrition and healthy eating are of national importance among early childhood educators, this book makes its way to the forefront. Picky eating is a common concern for early childhood educators and parents of toddlers and preschoolers, which is why I believe this book holds its place among more polished children's publications.
Gregory the Terrible Eater is a short- to medium-length book with a moderate amount of text and dialogue. Young children will enjoy the silly concept of worried goat parents trying to get their picky son to eat the right things! This is an appropriate read-aloud book for a preschool group or a library children's story hour.
The illustrations by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey are simple line drawings filled with color.
A Note About Picky Eaters
Young children have more sensitive palates than adults, and some children have aversions to textures or strong smells, and they may be reluctant to try new things. And as any parent of toddlers knows, sometimes kids' tastes change for unfathomable reasons. Have fun with this storytime topic, but don't shame anyone who isn't an adventurous eater!
Reading fun and silly books about picky eaters who try new things will help parents fight their picky-eating battles but may not win the war. Reading books about foods and instilling familiarity with the names of different fruits and vegetables may also help kids feel more comfortable trying new things.
Pre-K Lesson Ideas for Picky Eaters
Read Gregory the Terrible Eater as part of a unit on nutrition and healthy eating. These curriculum ideas are geared to preschool or kindergarten age.
Food-Themed Action Songs
I encourage preschool and nursery teachers to use music and movement as part of their preschool story hour curriculum. Combining music and movement activities with reading times helps children prepare to participate and listen.
Sing The Good Food Song to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
You can make singing this song a visual/textual experience by including pictures of the food in the song. Show the pictures one at a time as you sing the song. Include the words of the song and the pictures in a file folder where you can use them over and over.
If you are presenting this lesson as part of a library story hour, making a craft is optional. This topic lends itself to lots of different preschool crafts.
- Food on a plate. Provide pictures of food from supermarket circulars or old magazine photos, and have children glue them to a paper plate. If children are older than 4, you may want to let them cut the photos themselves using safety scissors.
- Healthy foods/junk foods. Take this idea to a new level by giving children paper plates with a line drawn down the middle with a marker. Write healthy on one side and junk on the other side. Have pictures of junk foods like donuts, cookies, potato chips, and pictures of healthy foods, as above. Have kids glue their photos to the appropriate side of the plate.
- Fruit and Vegetable prints. Use fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, broccoli, or peppers cut in interesting ways, and an apple cut in half so that the core shows in a star shape. Dip the vegetables and fruits in tempera paints to make prints.
- V is for Veggie, C is for Carrot, etc. If your preschool is more focused on learning the alphabet and reading readiness, provide children with pictures of food and show them how to write the appropriate letter of the alphabet that corresponds to the food.
- Pasta pictures. Use small-sized pasta to make P-is-for-Pasta pictures. Glue the pasta onto a stiff sheet of cardstock that you have printed a large letter "P" onto. Write "P is for Pasta" on the picture.
- Guess the food in my picnic basket game. You could prepare laminated pictures or use an actual picnic basket with plastic play food. Play a guessing game with the children. Say, "In my picnic basket, I have some fruit. It is red, and it is a berry. What kind of food is it?" Give the children a moment to guess, then show them a strawberry. You may want to use toy foods to reduce the mess.
Read These Books About Picky Eaters, Too
- Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks. This delightful read aloud story will give children an opportunity to read along, in call and response style. "Fum, fo, fi, fe, monster's don't eat broccoli!" This story is all about the reluctance to try new foods, and making up your mind that you don't like something before you try it. Wait a minute? Those maple trees are broccoli? But they taste delicious!!
- I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child. Lola's a "fussy eater" and her brother Charlie has a plan. And that's a good thing, because there are a LOT of things Lola doesn't eat. Charlie convinces Lola to try a few new things when he gives the food interesting names.
- Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. This alphabet book contains a color collection of fruits and vegetables with their names. This book isn't your typical read aloud. But with so many delicious fruits and vegetables to identify, this book would create a good search and find activity. Call on different children in the classroom to identify the pictured vegetables on the page.
- Eat Your People! by Lou Kuenzler. Monty the Monster doesn't like eating people! They're crunchy and sour and just don't taste that good. And yet, he does manage to eat them after his parents cajole him through dinner. Use your judgement--this book might be a little disturbing for preschoolers.
- Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. What child wouldn't love eating candy for dinner? But Little Pea hates it! Thank goodness Little Pea had spinach to look forward to for dessert.
- Little Green Donkey, by Anuska Allepuz. Little Green Donkey eats so much grass that he turns green. This turn of events forces him to try some new foods, and he discovers one that he likes. But, uh oh. . . this is a fun and not heavy-handed story about picky eaters that won't make anyone feel terrible. But you may want to ask your students if they ever turned green from eating too much broccoli!
© 2008 Carolyn Augustine
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 19, 2008:
Thank you! We love this book too.
In The Doghouse from California on May 19, 2008:
Another great Hub! This book was one of my son's favorites, as he shares the name with dear Gregory!