Thursday, July 19, 2007

Book Review: Three Grin Salad

Today, guest blogger Nick Ruth checks in with a review of Three Grin Salad, which was written by Aja King when she was ten years old.

Title: Three Grin Salad: A Kid’s Recipe for a Happy and Healthy Life
Author: Aja King
Illustrator: Lisa Taron
ISBN10: 0-9780710-1-8
Publisher: ICAN Press

A musical group named Crosby, Still, Nash & Young used beautiful harmonies over 35 years ago, pleading that we “teach our children well.” Whitney Houston echoed that theme 15 years later asking that we “teach them well and let them lead the way.” Aja King’s parents obviously believe that “children are our future” as reflected in their 10-year old daughter’s first book, “Three Grin Salad,” which lays out a path to health and happiness in a way that can only be seen through a child’s eyes.

I will gladly admit that I found myself smiling as I read “Three Grin Salad.” No one likes a lecture, and Aja wisely keeps the focus on herself as she lays out the benefits of healthy eating and exercise accompanied by Lisa Taron’s colorful illustrations. I thought about spitting out my Twinkie® as I read her observation that if something in your food has a name so long you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

“Three Grin Salad” was an “Indie Excellence Book Award Finalist” and I can certainly see why. Aja sprinkles the text with whimsical recipes for growing up healthy and happy, including the recipe for the book title. These little recipes serve as nice breakpoints for each chapter, and I liked the fact that at the end of the book Aja includes thought-provoking questions and space to write your own answers as she “leads the way” with her words.

But all is not peaches and cream in the observations of a child. We all know exercise and good eating go hand in hand and it’s great to see a child take that lesson to heart and want to spread the word, but in some places I find that Aja" seems to have trouble believing what she is enthusiastically teaching. When she asks, "What makes fast foods taste so good? I can’t help but imagine that she isn’t craving some french fries as she picks at her salad, and I would respectfully disagree that children who enjoy computer time should give it up for outdoor activities. My son is about Aja’s age and has his fingers glued to a keyboard a lot of the time but he still likes to ride bikes, climb trees and scale rock walls. No single recipe can please every palate.

I can’t forget to mention the “Three Grin Salad” theme song, which can be found on her website A great little marketing gimmick that I think more books should explore. It’s one more way to put a grin on your face and get your toes-a-tappin’.

Aja’s book is a great introduction to good eating and exercise that will get your kids thinking about what they put in their bodies, how it affects them, and how they can make better choices. It’s amusing and instructive, and it’s hard to bring those two things together in one book. Aja has done it. Check it out.

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Nick Ruth is my wonderful husband of over 19 years. He's also the author of The Remin Chronicles. Nick blogs about politics at

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