We got the family out to The Red Balloon Bookshop this weekend to see David LaRochelle and Mark Fearing with their new book, How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans. This is a feat for us these days. Someone always decides the nap they didn’t want two hours ago is now necessary right when we need to leave; or we have a diaper blow out; or we are just subjected to a general break down. However, the stars aligned on Sunday and we got out and got to The Red Balloon only a little late for the start of the reading.
The Book – How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans
I would highly recommend reading this book to your kids or, if you’re really lucky, having your kids read it to you.What would you do if a band of evil green beans kidnapped your parents? That’s the question Martha is faced with after she refuses to eat her green beans and they attack. That’s about as much as I can tell you without giving away the whole book. However, Gianna has also reviewed this book, read her ideas for reading it out loud with kids here.
Fun with Martha’s Green Beans
Obviously, this book goes well with Green Beans, My kids prefer them steamed. I’ve found that they like food best that they’ve help to prepare. Snapping green beans is one of the easier kitchen helper jobs. Set them up with a bowl and let them snap off the ends for you.
It would also be fun to plant Green Beans and watch them grow. Depending on the time of year, you could move them out to the garden or just start them in the garden. In the winter months, Imagination Tree shows you how to grow your bean seeds on cotton balls, so you can watch the whole process through a glass. The Virginia Department of Education offers a color PDF activity sheet to show the life cycle of a bean plant.
The Outing – The Red Balloon Bookshop
We really adore The Red Balloon Bookshop. Almost everything is at child height. They sell the type of books and toys that are fun for both parents and kids. It’s fun to play I-spy with our favorite book characters along the top row of bookshelves. When you need a break from the crowd the bargain book basement is cool and uncrowded.
David LaRochelle is one of our favorite authors. He wrote one of my favorite books, The Best Pet of All, so this was kind of a treat for me, too. Mark Fearing did a great job of illustrating this book. He really brings out the story with his illustrations.
The Real Parent Review – Book Signings With Kids
I would recommend this outing for school age kids or one really well-behaved tot. This recommendation probably depends on the author and the event. In this case, David LaRochelle is from the area and there were a lot of grandparent-aged “friends of the author” at this event. It’s amazing how many people in line knew him personally.
Judging from the looks I got, I don’t think the other patrons found my kids as cute and precocious as I do. The small store gets crowded during events and it is hard to reign in two at a time. Since almost everything in this store is at child height, it sometimes felt like they were tag teaming their tour of terror.
While waiting for our book to get autographed, I had to step out of line with the little ones and let my second-grader wait by herself. When I tried to step back in so she wouldn’t have to talk to adults by herself, some knitting vigilante accused me of cutting in line (seriously, she was knitting in line and very concerned about the potential of me and two toddlers not waiting our turn). Rather than start a rumble, I just stepped back. Mr. LaRochelle and Mr. Fearing were not at all scary and she did just fine on her own. So it all turned out good.
When we got home, we ate meatloaf with green beans, but we all survived without incident.
2017 Follow up: It’s been a few years since I’ve written this review. Since then I’ve learned that book signings with kids is best done as a one-on-one date. I find that crowds and lines are best navigated with a bit more control then multiple children afford. If you are looking for a way to meet authors with several children, we highly recommend the Red Wing Children’s Book Festival which happens every September or the Alphabet Forest at the Minnesota State Fair. Both of these events allow for active kids to mix with authors in a fun environment.