KidLit: Oliver McCoy Loves Onions, Don’t You?
In 1966, Susan Christie had a hit song, “I Love Onions,” in which she listed a variety of things she doesn’t like and professed her love of onions (“I don't like snails, or toads, or frogs, Or strange things living under logs, But, mmm, I love onions.”) One of the few kazoo hits to come out of the 1960s, it was a great, fun song.
Well, that was last century. In the twenty-first century we have Oliver McCoy, the poster child for onion-growers everywhere. You see, Oliver McCoy loves onions. Richard B. Joelson tells his story, Oliver McCoy: The Boy Who Loved Onions, in rhyme, in the first of a series of books about Oliver and vegetables.
The problem is, Oliver only eats onions. He’s just not interested in burgers and pizza or any of the foods so many of us find addictive. When the kitchen onion bin is empty, Oliver tries lots of other foods, but nothing (not even chocolate cake or blueberry pie) deliver the same satisfaction he gets from onions.
I’m with Oliver and Susan Christie on the issue of onions—I love ‘em. Sautéed, roasted, fried, baked, or raw, they’re fantastic. In an amusing story, Oliver demonstrates the glory of eating onions, despite onion breath. Oliver had discovered something that most kids don’t seem to know…onions are sweet.
Oliver McCoy: The Boy Who Loved Onions is a humorous visit with a slightly obsessed kid (remembering back to third grade, I recall only wanting to eat sweet peas, but my parents weren’t as flexible as his); it’s a good choice to read to kids who are fixated on a particular food or refuse to try anything new. It also serves as a reminder that veggies are delicious, not punishment.
Joelson’s light verse, accompanied by Annette C. Shumay’s illustrations, is sure to entertain children, ages 3 through 8, even the ones who don’t like onions. Four more books in the series are planned, all featuring Oliver and his love of veggies (yes, he expands his tastes).