Written when Lied was eight, this modest, somewhat flat story describes her grandparents' travails during the Great Depression. When her grandfather loses his job and the bank claims their home in Iowa, the couple takes young daughter Dorothy along for a two-week stint digging potatoes in Idaho, where by night they can pick the leftovers for themselves. Adding warmth and charm to a baked-potato-plain tale, Ernst's (Zinnia and Dot) cartoon illustrations include some endearing scenes: one of Dorothy asleep atop bags of potatoes in a moonlit field; another of the family driving home, their car stacked inside and out with bags of potatoes. The pictures of the Depression are laid out to resemble a photo album, framed with solid borders and set against a potato-colored background; the first and last pages depict a contemporary girl writing at a table, a bowl of spuds at her elbow. But despite this winning presentation, there's no getting around the fact that the most notable aspect of the narrative is the tender age of its author. Ages 5-10. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the Great Depression, Clarence loses his job in Iowa. He takes his family to Idaho where there is work picking potatoes. When a day's picking is done, Clarence, his wife Agnes and young daughter Dorothy are allowed to continue picking potatoes to keep for themselves. After two weeks, with a car bursting with potatoes, they go back home and trade their potatoes for needed groceries, clothes and even a pig. This is a true story told by Dorothy's niece, Kate Lied. Kate was eight years old when she entered the story in a writing contest at her neighborhood bookstore four years ago. Potato is a picture book with light-hearted drawings and the real voice of a child.
Children's Literature - Margaret Jackson
PreS-Gr 2The author was eight years old when she wrote this charming story that had been passed down through the generations within her family. It's about her grandparents who survived the Depression when they were a young couple by picking potatoes in Idaho. Their plight ends happily when they return home to Iowa and are able to trade the harvest for necessities until the man finds a job. The story is written in the spare but honest language of a child, and family pride and heritage shine through. Ernst's soft watercolor-and-pen illustrations present a comfortable view of the difficult times. The burlap-looking background on the cover, spud-brown pages, and pastel-colored pictures place this homey story firmly in the realm of family folklore. A lovely selection that will fascinate and inspire children.Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
School Library Journal - School Library Journal