The Ugly Vegetables
The Ugly Vegetables
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Annotation: A little girl thinks her mother's garden is the ugliest in the neighborhood until she discovers that flowers might look and smell pretty but Chinese vegetable soup smells best of all. Includes a recipe.
Catalog Number: #6058035
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 1999
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-88106-336-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-88106-336-3
Dewey: E
LCCN: 98026863
Dimensions: 21 x 27 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Benny thinks everything's the pits. So begins this fanciful yet on-target look into the thinking of preschoolers. Benny, a piglet, doesn't like his mother trying to arrange his things, he refuses her suggestion of a bath, and he's furious that she wants to wash his doll, Little Piggy. So he stomps out. Can he live with the man in the hot dog stand? No. Other options also fade. Finally, he wallows in the mud, until a man runs him off. But Benny has left Little Piggy behind, and his traumatic journey to find the toy makes him realize home is not the pits after all. The book's quirky humor is what sets the rather commonplace plot apart. For instance, it isn't Benny's toys Mother arranges, but his sticks and potatos. This fun is also carried out in the pen-and-watercolor art, as Benny scowls, grumps, sighs, and finally smiles. Maybe it's the book's Swedish origins, but Benny, wandering alone, seems unusually free, even for a character in a story. What rings very true is Benny's temper and, equally, his realization that home is a warm, safe place to be. (Reviewed October 15, 1999)
Horn Book
A young girl is disappointed with her family's Chinese vegetable garden because the other gardens in the neighborhood are like "rainbows of flowers." Her mother reassures her that the ugly vegetables are better than flowers; sure enough, the aromatic vegetable soup her mother makes brings the whole neighborhood to their door for a taste. The simply told text is well matched with the lively, color-saturated paintings.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 A Chinese-American girl and her mother grow a vegetable garden in a neighborhood where everyone else grows flowers. The girl thinks their plants are ugly compared to flowers, but soon learns that vegetables can make a very delicious soup one that the whole neighborhood wants to try. Soon everyone is growing Chinese vegetables as well as flowers. A recipe for "Ugly Vegetable Soup" is included. Lin's brightly colored gouache illustrations perfectly match her story, creating a patchwork-quilt effect as the neighbors' backyards all converge. Families of all kinds engage in all sorts of activities while children play happily together. Each double-page spread is a different color with a different pattern scattered lightly across it, serving as a frame for the illustrations and as background for the text. A lovely, well-formatted book with an enjoyable multicultural story. Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Word Count: 920
Reading Level: 3.1
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.1 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 32425 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.8 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q28674
Lexile: 520L
Guided Reading Level: L
Fountas & Pinnell: L

In this charming story about celebrating differences a Chinese-American girl wishes for a garden of bright flowers instead of one full of bumpy, ugly, vegetables. The neighbors' gardens look so much prettier and so much more inviting to the young gardener than the garden of "black-purple-green vines, fuzzy wrinkled leaves, prickly stems, and a few little yellow flowers" that she and her mother grow. Nevertheless, mother assures her that "these are better than flowers." Come harvest time, everyone agrees as those ugly Chinese vegetables become the tastiest, most aromatic soup they have ever known. As the neighborhood comes together to share flowers and ugly vegetable soup, the young gardener learns that regardless of appearances, everything has its own beauty and purpose.

THE UGLY VEGETABLES springs forth with the bright and cheerful colors of blooming flowers and lumpy vegetables. Grace Lin's playful illustrations pour forth with abundant treasures. Complete with a guide to the Chinese pronunciation of the vegetables and the recipe for ugly vegetable soup! Try it . . . you'll love it, too!

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