Name of Book: Potato Man
Author: Megan McDonald
Audience: Ages 4-8
Summary: With only one eye and a face with as many lumps in it as a potato, Mr. Angelo rolls into town selling fruits and vegetables. He looks a fright. Boys chase him, throw cinders at his back and run from him. One day, some potatoes fall off his wagon, and a young boy takes them. He reasons that Mr. Angelo, half blind, cannot see what he has done. However, Mr. Angelo does see and tells the young boy’s mother, who makes the boy peel potatoes for a week. Later the young boy squeezes an orange into his sister’s hair and again Mr. Angelo see and tells his mother. Days later, the boy’s dog finds a pomegranate. He knows it belongs to “Potato Man”, and he also knows what he must do….he gives it back to Mr. Angelo.
Literary elements at work in the story: The use of a “real” narrator telling his grandchildren a tale from his childhood give the story accessibility. It also teaches compassion and understanding without being heavy handed.
How do the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: It is often hard for young children to grasp the past but with depth of text and period illustrations this is not a problem in this story. The themes are universal and developed so deftly that children will easily be able to relate to them.
Theology: Hosea 5:15-6:6
The Israelites were much like the boy in this story. Again and again they did what they knew was wrong. Again and again God tried to show them, through the prophets, why and how they were wrong. In this loving passage, God tries one more time to get through to the Israelites. He does not expect that they will never err again, but only that they “,.,press on to know the Lord…” For God desires “….steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than brunt offerings.” The boy in the story eventually sees this. He knows he cannot go on being the “victim” of bad luck. He must be strong and do what is right. In the end because he acts out of love, he receives love in return.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Have you ever known someone who was made fun of because of their looks or how they acted?
- How have you acted towards that person?
- The boy in the story thinks he can get away with his wrong actions. Have you ever done something you thought you could get away with?
- Did you?
- How did you feel?
- Hosea see the Israelites doing things that are wrong. God just wants the Israelites to do the right thing, just as the boy’s mother and Mr. Angelo just want the boy to do the right thing. How can we do the right thing?
- What should we do if we do something wrong?
This review was written by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.
Potato Man by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.