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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Jam is a jelly jar. Then there’s Snap the pickle, Phil the paper bag and, the story’s protagonist, Pepper, the potato. Pepper’s friends find him buried in dirt and, you guessed it, dirty. They want to clean Pepper before they go to the fair by giving him a bath, but Pepper insists baths are only for pickles like Snap. The friends are insistent that Pepper has a bath so he can be clean enough to win the trophy at the fair. Pepper keeps saying, “I am who I am,” and off they go to the fair. Surprisingly, Pepper ends up in his own bath of sorts at the fair, still claiming, “I am who I am.”
Lenora Riegel’s picture book story, Pepper the Salt Potato, is a Finger Lakes Tale. Food, history, and a great yarn to share come together in this charming children’s story, based on the origin of a local (Finger Lakes, New York) specialty of salted potatoes. The author begins with a short historical note about the origin of this local delight, then launches into an interesting tale using some favorite food items as the main characters. There is considerable humor in this story and the young reader will certainly relate to Pepper’s insistence on not having a bath. The repeated line, “I am who I am,” is poignant, too, as it points out how important it is to accept others for who they are. Even the author uses this line in her personal introduction. Very clever. Beautifully illustrated with fun, cartoon-like characters to match the foods they represent. Loved it!