Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy,
illustrations by Kimberly Shaw-Peterson

(Suggested reading level: Pre-school through Grade 3)

I admit it – I’m a spaghetti-aholic. I love pasta of all shapes sizes and with a variety of sauces, but my all-time favorite is spaghetti with plain old tomato sauce. And by favorite I mean I could eat it three meals a day everyday. I don’t, but I’d love to. So you can see what attracted me to this book. I don’t read many picture books now that Amber’s older, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

Lucy is a sweet, pretty girl whose grandfather has taught her that everyone is different, but that everyone has a heart with feelings. It’s a shame that Ralph, a boy in her class, wasn’t taught the same lesson. He teases Lucy about everything from her hair to her food, hurting her feelings. When she gets the chance to tease him back, though, she helps him instead.

This is a cute story with an important lesson: “treat others the way you want to be treated.” And I did love  Lucy’s favorite sandwich, spaghetti in a hot dog bun. I may have to try it next time we have some left-over spaghetti.

My one complaint, and this is not the only books that’s guilty of it, is that it underestimates kids. It presents the story, tells how Lucy thinks and feels, shows that Ralph appreciated what she did, which was perfect. I just wish that it didn’t have the preaching moment.

Papa Gino hugged Lucy and replied, “That took a lot of courage. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do. You chose to be a good person and to treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m so proud of you, Lucy.”

I think that for a moral to truly be taught, it needs to be incorporated into the story, not a tacked on explanation. Kids know that it wasn’t easy for Lucy, but they also realize that it was the right thing to do, without being flat out told. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m being hyper-critical.

Overall, it’s an adorable book, though, with bright, cheery illustrations. And I do like Lucy.

32 pages
Published August 11, 2008

3½ out of 5 stars

Purchase at Amazon or an Indie bookstore.

Just one more comment: Amber tells me that spaghetti with butter is good wrapped in a tortilla, too.

I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion.


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