by Youth Programs Intern Reece Trevor
At first glance, David Westerlund’s Simone Goes to the Market seems to fit the bill for a standard children’s book. It’s got a simple narrative structure, eye-catching pictures, and an educational message. It’s in that message that Westerlund’s book starts to look a little different, from, say, The Cat in the Hat. He calls Simone a “book of colors connecting face and food.”
“And what, exactly, does that mean?” I wondered as I opened the cover. Just what it sounds like, it turns out. Westerlund describes a trip with his daughter, the title character, to their local farmers’ market. Simone and her father find purple pole beans, green serrano peppers, gold honey. And here’s where the important part comes in: facing each image of vibrantly colorful food is a photograph of the farmer who produced it. The pole beans come from Gretchen, the peppers from Maria, the honey from Bill and his bees. This connection between what we eat and the closely personal image of its producer, Westerlund thinks, is vital.
I couldn’t agree more. Ultimately, that’s a huge part of the slow food movement. We need to reestablish that vital connection, and Westerlund is right when he describes how important it is to start this process at a young age. If children come of age in an environment where it’s clear that food comes from their neighbors instead of magically appearing on supermarket shelves, then we’ll have made important steps towards systemic, grassroots change in the way we think about food as a society.
You can learn more about Simon Goes to the Market and get a copy of your own at www.faceandfood.com.