Thursday, August 09, 2012

10 Books in Which Characters are Eaten #TeamBear

We love August 10--one of our favorite book holidays. Thanks to Cathy (Reflect and Refine) and Mandy (Enjoy and Embrace Learning) for organizing 10 for 10 Picture Books. Visit their sites to see everyone's lists!

Many of you may remember the ongoing conversation that many of us had around the brilliant book I Want My Hat Back (E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Picture Books) by Jon Klassen. (SPOILER ALERT but I can't imagine we have any readers who haven't read this book...)  There seemed to be some controversy and unhappiness around the bear eating the rabbit. There were also some issue around whether the bear actually ate the rabbit. I was one of the first #TeamBear members. I was #teambear from the first reading and I never waivered. I was so much #teambear that I was shocked that a #teamrabbit even existed. A few readers (you know who you are...) seemed to think it was just too mean of the bear to eat the rabbit.  So, I decided to use this opportunity to further prove that readers have no reason to be upset with the bear for eating the rabbit.  After all, the rabbit did steal his hat.

Here's the thing. I DO think that the bear in I WANT MY HAT BACK ate the rabbit. AND I think it was justified. AND I think it was no big deal. I don't think eating something in a picture book is the same as killing it off.  I think it is just a temporary swallowing thing to make a point. (And if you've read EXTRA YARN by Jon Klassen, you know that the rabbit is alive and well after the eating!)  Through this #hatback experience,  I realized that books in which the characters get eaten make me laugh.  That is the point.  No need to feel badly for the characters.

So, today's list is 10 of my favorite books in which a character gets eaten. And mostly things are okay. It is even actually funny. Eating characters is just a thing that happens in books sometimes.  I am sharing it in hopes that this list will convince a few of you #teamrabbit members to join #teambear instead:-)  We always welcome new members.

(I Want My Hat Back is clearly my #1 on this list!)

Arnie, the Doughnut by Laurie Keller is one of my favorite books in which the characters get eaten. Actually, Arnie does not get eaten but is shocked to find that many of his friends in the donut shop know they are going to be eaten and are OK with that!  They are happy to be donuts that will be eaten an enjoyed by someone.

And then there is Beware of the Frog by William Bee.  There is some eating in this book because the Mrs. Collywobble's guard frog eats anything that causes danger to the old lady. How can a guard frog that eats giants not be funny?  If anything tries to get into the house, the frog just eats him up.  There is some other eating going on in the book but all of it is justified, and quite amusing.

And there are so many versions There Was an Old Lady (Classic Books With Holes) in which the things eaten are just fine at the end. Depending on the version you read, the lady at the end explodes or hiccups or something. It is then that we find out that everything she swallows is just fine!

I'm The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry is a new favorite with our younger readers. This one is more reality-based, but still quite fun:-)

Let's not forget Little Red Riding Hood: By the Brothers Grimm  in which the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother (and in some versions, he also eats Little Red Riding Hood).  But the woodsman frees them both with one swing of his ax:-)

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue by Maurice Sendak is possibly my absolute favorite book in which people get eaten.  The book is only a favorite when the words are sung by Carol King.

Do you see how no-big-dealish eating Pierre was? How he actually emerged a better person? How the lion actually HELPED him by eating him?  (just as I am sure the rabbit emerged better after being eaten by the bear....)

If you remember, there is some eating going on in Pinocchio (Little Golden Book)  When Gepetto goes off to find Pinocchio, he is eaten by a whale. Later, when Pinocchio goes off to find Gepetto, he too is eaten and the two are reunited in the whale's stomach. They are quite clever in making the whale sneeze so they can escape and live happily ever after.

I remember reading The Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale by Jack Kent when I was little. I loved this book and the way that the cat grew and grew.  This one is a classic and the illustrations make it pretty amusing.  This cat goes around eating everyone. He is just really hungry. But not to worry, someone releases them and after a few large bandages for the cat, it seems that everyone is okay after the ordeal.

And my new VERY favorite may be a new one that Mary Lee shared with me.  It is called Bear Despair (Stories Without Words) by Gaeten Doremus (isn't that the best title ever?).  It is a wordless book (even more to love about it) and I am excited about adding it to my collection of wordless books. This is the story of a bear whose teddy bear is stolen. And  the bear has to get it back--so there is some eating going on. The illustrations in this one are great and I am sure kids will love it.

(And I am not saying whether there is any eating going on or not , but Jon Klassen has a new picture book coming soon called This Is Not My Hat .  Really, how can it not be great???)


  1. Laughed out loud as I read this! I can tell you had a lot of fun composing this post - #teambear indeed!

  2. Love this post and long live #teambear! I think the book Chloe and the Lion would fit in well here. :)

  3. It never occurred to me that the bear didn't eat the rabbit. That's what bears do, especially when angry. This is what is known as an argument with much support, a mentor text for all those students learning about persuasive essays, Franki. Thanks for a good laugh at the end of my day!

  4. Franki, Franki, Franki...just when I felt happy with the whole #hatback situation, you have to bring it up again! I have to shake my head because this book does not fail to amaze me. Is it seriously possible that it is still pushing us to think more and further and differently?

    I've read so many books with interesting endings since reading I Want My Hat Back. I should have started a list on GoodReads! Most recently, I read Frog and Fly by Jeff Mack. It's a graphic novel with SIX stories. You can imagine my joy at reading these stories.

    One of my favorite books that has a #hatback ending is Gabby and Gator by James Burks. I adore the book and even love the ending. I think I love the ending because the reader gets to see that the eaten one really is still alive and it's just for pretend.

    I'm an optimistic person. I remember reading the Harry Potter when Sirius Black gets sucked into that time crystal ball thing and thinking without a doubt that he would be back, that he wasn't really gone, that they would somehow figure out how to get him out of there. I still feel like there has to be some chance that he'll come back to us. I'll remember that mindset as I come across characters being eaten in books.

    I do just have to real life, if you are eaten there's a good chance that's the end for you. It rubs me the wrong way to teach kids that you can get eaten but you won't reeeeeally be eaten. Ah! I have to stop because I could go on and on...and so can you apparently!

    Thank you for sharing these! I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of This Is Not My Hat!!!! xoxo

  5. Anonymous6:02 AM

    Beware of the Frog looks adorable. Will have to get that one.

    We're big bear book readers in our house. Bears are Isabelle's "thing" if a young toddler can actually have a thing. She loves her big teddy bear and kisses it whenever she greets him after being away from him for awhile. It's too cute. Thus, we're going to have to pick up Bear Despair. I look forward to the story we'll create together since it doesn't have words.

  6. Franki!
    Thanks for sharing your list...I want to read I want my hat back! I don't know it and look for to reading it since there is so much drama around the hat being eaten! I will weigh in on which team after reading it!

  7. What an interesting theme to create a top 10 list for! I'm going to track down Bear Despair just for the title alone.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  8. Thanks for joining us! You do win the most creative collection, I think. For someone who has worked so hard at fitness it cracks me up you chose books about eating.

  9. A couple more you might want to check out: Emily Gravett's WOLVES (which has an ended along the lines of I WANT MY HAT BACK) and Mini Grey's JIM WHO RAN AWAY FROM HIS NURSE AND WAS EATEN BY A LION.

  10. LOVED this list, Franki! #TeamRabbit never crossed my mind either until the Twitter conversation started. I'll second Katherine's idea of Chloe and the Lion being a good addition to this list!


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