Review By HOMA WOODRUM
This book tells the story of a real life dog named Fred who goes from a non-veg home to a vegan one when his caretaker, Gertie, becomes too ill to care for him.
A large portion of the story sets up how Fred prefers people food over dog food but does not like peas, even spitting out the pea from a chicken pot pie while an in-home nurse visits the elderly Gertie. With so much set up, I was surprised that the book quickly resolved when Fred one day decided he liked fresh peas from the garden. Though the book indicates that his sudden affection for peas relates both to his bravery and to his physical similarity to a cow, I didn’t really understand the impetus for the change, nor is it particularly helpful for families working through aversions to particular foods. Still, the resolution — “He ate the pea…and now Fred loves PEAS!” — may encourage some kids to try their peas.
The illustrations are a little stark but sweet and you can feel that this book was a labor of love. The book concludes with a photo of the real Fred and a loving note from the author in her mother’s memory. There is also a recipe for pasta with a peanut butter sauce and peas but it was not anything we could test due to food allergies.
Some vegans will smile at the description of the vegan family who takes care of Fred — “‘Vegan’ meant that they do not eat or use anything made from animals. They love animals so much that they regularly go to the country to visit cows, chickens, pigs, lambs, and other animals. There were six frogs, four cats, one dog and a girl named Lauren in the family, along with her parents of course.” Still, the unresolved questions raised by illness, an in-home nurse, and the disappearance of Gertie can be confusing and upsetting for children. The story would be more suited for a chapter book for older kids, so that the themes could be fleshed out for discussion. I know my daughter was most worried about where Gertie went and why Fred had to leave her. I do realize this is meant as a true to life tale, and thus creative storytelling can be slightly limited, but there are too many themes at play for it to be ready for the inquisitive picture book crowd.
Homa // Jan 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm
I just realized I left out that I kindly received this book as a review copy from the author and wanted to comment and mention it.
Stefan // Jan 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm
Thanks for the review! I think you may be over-analyzing it a bit, though; think of the book as it will occur to its intended audience: a child. My step-daughter LOVES this book, and it’s really helping us remind her of why, even though all the other kids in pre-school eat meat, we do not!
Highly recommended book.
Homa // Jan 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm
Thank you, Stefan, I am so glad for another perspective. I did not have the opportunity to read it to any other children except my 3 1/2 year old daughter so your comment is very helpful!
Kristin // Jan 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm
I agree with Stefan, the book is intended for children. Not all children’s book answers every question that occur in a book. Heck, a few books I’ve read as an adult don’t answer some questions that arise while I read it. I just use my imagination to see what I think would happen. That’s what most children do.
I personally know the author and for being a first time children’s author and being able to use her imagination as she did while mourning the loss of her mother.. they did a fantastic job.
Also as far as the illustrations.. it is a cute, simple book about a dog. Why take away the story with great detail in illustrations. Some stories need the detail but this one does not.
I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian but I appreciate the author’s effort in raising awareness on what it is to respect not just humans but the animals in the world.
Too each their own I suppose.. you don’t have to like it but I think your words were a little harsh.
Lucy // Jan 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm
I found this a sweet story of a dog (who happens to be adorable) facing changes in his life. It is playful and simple. Death is not raised in the story. Illness is a part of life and isn’t emphasized . The children I saw responding to this book loved Fred and got the point about finding you like something after all. I agree with the above person’s observations about the illustrations. I think they suit the story perfectly.
Fred K9 vegan // Jan 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm
Thought you’d be interested in a review of Fred Eats A Pea that was in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Newspaper on January 24, 2012. Here’s the link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12024/1205509-437.stm#ixzz1kM04lhog
Drew // Jul 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm
This is animal abuse.
The dog obviously just forced himself to eat peas because he didnt want to starve from your outrageous treatment of him, not letting him eat anything that belongs to a dogs diet (meat).
He will probably get sick soon enough.
Kelly // Aug 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm