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A Few Bites

A Few Bites

by Cybele Young

It’s time for Ferdie to eat lunch, but he'd much rather find the special part for his fighter ship. When big sister Viola promises to help him, he comes to the table. But he finds broccoli on his plate, and carrots! Ever resourceful and imaginative, Viola convinces Ferdie that dinosaurs from the Jurassic ate broccoli to escape their fiercest predators, and


It’s time for Ferdie to eat lunch, but he'd much rather find the special part for his fighter ship. When big sister Viola promises to help him, he comes to the table. But he finds broccoli on his plate, and carrots! Ever resourceful and imaginative, Viola convinces Ferdie that dinosaurs from the Jurassic ate broccoli to escape their fiercest predators, and that carrots are just like the Orange Power Sticks that aliens eat for super vision. Does't Ferdie want to be just like them? Viola continues to persuade Ferdie to eat up, but when her energy finally flags, it’s Ferdie's turn to create a wonderful surprise.

Just as in A Few Blocks, an ordinary event seen through a child's eyes becomes an amazing adventure. This time the children switch back and forth between the lunch table and the elaborate fantasy worlds they imagine (shown in Cybèle Young's intricate paper sculptures, which she has created from paintings of the children’s surroundings). At the end of the story, the world of the imagination and the everyday magically come together, and Viola and Ferdie each enjoy a few bites.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Scrumptious, all around.
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
Young's A Few Blocks pitted the imaginative powers of a girl named Viola against the stubbornness of her younger brother, Ferdie. Now Viola has made lunch for Ferdie—broccoli, carrots, and ravioli—and he balks. "What's this? I'm definitely not eating it. No, thank you. I'm not even hungry," he tells her. "That's actually dinosaur food," says Viola smoothly. "It was around during the Cretaceous, and if you were a dinosaur you would have had to eat five thousand of those broccolis every day." As Viola talks, Young represents the girl's skill at turning the boring into the fanciful by doing the same to their suburban surroundings—the pet cat is shown within the silhouette of a large dinosaur, while lights become flying saucers and anglerfish in subsequent episodes. For readers, the pleasure comes as much from the satisfaction of watching Viola succeed in sweet-talking Ferdie as from the whimsy of the fantasies themselves. It's an added treat to see Ferdie rise to the occasion when Viola runs out of patience. Young's illustrative and design powers are considerable, and she's created another handsome piece of work. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A good story and thoroughly engaging art that flows organically…a winner." —Kirkus, starred review

"…another handsome piece of work." —Publishers' Weekly, starred review

Praise for A Few Blocks:
"Beautifully illustrated with distinctive etched-paper collages . . . celebrates creative play and sibling cooperation in a way that feels very real." — The New York Times

Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Big sister Viola getting her younger brother Ferdie to eat his lunch of carrot sticks, broccoli and ravioli. Very inventively Viola convinces Ferdie that dinosaurs ate tons of broccoli, and if he eats his, he will be more intelligent and can become the "top boss of all the dinosaurs." She also persuades him that carrot sticks were considered a source of great power by aliens known as Zyblots, so of course Ferdie promptly eats them all. But Viola's imagination falters during a fantastic account of an underwater adventure. The ravioli remains uneaten and there is no dessert. By cleverly combining black and white drawings with whimsical, detailed watercolored three dimensional paper sculptures, Ms. Young creates a book that artfully combines the ordinary with the illusory. The result is unique and beautiful. Children will love examining how the characters romp through the wonderful adventures and end up "sharing" the unique dessert that Ferdie concocts with his toys. Use this story as a read aloud and be assured that it will be requested again and again. Place this title on the purchase list.
School Library Journal
.PreS-K—Ferdie and his older sister, Viola, of A Few Blocks (Groundwood, 2011) are back in another exquisite picture book about the power of imagination. When Ferdie would rather play than eat lunch, Viola's creativity is put to the test. Young employs a minimalist approach in the early pages, depicting the siblings in black ink on a purely white background. Viola coaxes Ferdie into eating by telling him his broccoli and carrots are really dinosaur food and alien fuel. Cutout drawings of bellowing tyrannosaurs and hungry sharks depicted in rich, saturated watercolors are inserted as Viola's stories come to life, giving the book a three-dimensional, surreal feel. Details of cozy domestic life (a teddy bear, a bowl of cat food) are jammed in along with whirling planets and aliens, resulting in a zany mélange that young readers will love. When Viola's powers of invention are finally exhausted, she explodes in anger. However, the two make amends by the story's conclusion, with Viola offering to take part in her brother's game ("Ferdie, let's find that special part for your fighter ship."). The spare, quiet style of the text perfectly expresses the simple joys of the sibling relationship. Young expertly conveys the children's frustration, boredom, and excitement through their facial expressions and body postures. The small size of this book makes it ideal for independent reading or one-on-one sharing, and children will discover plenty of new details on second and third readings.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
There's wondrous art in the service of little brothers in this follow-up to A Few Blocks (2011). Viola has made lunch for her little brother Ferdie: broccoli, carrot sticks, ravioli. Ferdie is consumed with the desire to find a missing toy part, but Viola promises to help him find it after he eats. Ferdie does not want this lunch. But then Viola launches into a brilliant saga of dinosaurs who could climb mountains and scale volcanoes so long as they ate 5,000 broccolis a day. This plays out in full color around the delicate little black-and-white sketches of brother and sister, fabulous paper sculptures of the children, dinosaurs, mountains and forests overlaying the original domestic scene. Ferdie eats three bites. Then he balks at the carrot sticks. Viola begins again, with aliens and their Orange Power Sticks, and after the second explosion of color, line and story, he eats them all up. But the ravioli is cold now, and although Viola launches a wild and splendid story--fish this time--she falters at the end. The images return to black and white, and Viola plugs in her earphones. She's done. But Ferdie has an idea, in color, and it works out very well indeed. A good story and thoroughly engaging art that flows organically from it; two attractive siblings in a recognizable setting; a winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.50(d)
AD700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Cybèle Young is an award-winning artist who exhibits her exquisite paper sculpture (Japanese paper printed with etched copperplates) internationally. She has illustrated several books for children, including Pa's Harvest by Jan Andrews, which was nominated for a Governor General's Award for Illustration and Jack Pine by Christopher Patton. She has most recently written and illustrated A Few Blocks, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book and Ten Birds, winner of a Governor General's Award for Illustration. She lives with her family in Toronto.

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