written by Sally Lee
illustrated by Gary Swift
These slim volumes, aimed at early readers, are billed as "First Graphics," but they barely fit the bill: They consist mostly of pictures and text, with one or two sentences per illustration. Only a handful of panels in each book include word balloons, although the fact that the information is arranged in panels, rather than one image per page, does contribute a comic-book feel.
Regardless of the format, these are bright, cheery books that deliver solid nutritional information with a minimum of preaching. Each starts off with the MyPlate graphic (the federal government's latest attempt at a visual representation of a healthy diet), but they don't dwell on it; instead, each book moves on to its particular area of interest. Both books present basic nutritional information in simple terms a child can understand: "Vitamin A is good for your eyes and skin." This is followed up with some simple suggestions for good foods to eat. The vegetable book actually tells the reader that children should get three ½-cup servings of vegetables a day, then gives a variety of different ways to get them. Likewise, the snack book has a number of different suggestions for healthy snacks, all of them quite palatable (even to kids).
These books are definitely designed more for education than entertainment. All the information is factual, and the illustrations, while colorful and fun-looking, present generic kids eating different things—there is no pretense of a story here. There is a short glossary in the back of each book, although it doesn't add much. The information presented in the main part of the book is clear enough as it is, and it's not particularly helpful to be told that a vitamin is "a nutrient that helps keep people healthy." The short bibliography, and the web address for an internet portal, are more useful and will be helpful to students who want to know more.
Nutritional purists may quibble with some of the information—presenting corn and potatoes as vegetables rather than starches, for instance, or listing juice as one way to get a serving of vegetables. Overall, though, the advice is sound and the tone is friendly. There are no "thou shalt nots," just happy kids munching or catching a slice of toast as it flies out of the toaster.