I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato
by Lauren Child

Lauren Child's I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato
children's book review by P.J. Rooks

Ages 3+

Charlie gets Lola to eat her veggies

Lola is a small and somewhat imperious person, and anyone charged with making her dinner will need to know that she does not eat peas or carrots or potatoes or mushrooms or spaghetti or eggs or sausages.

She will also not be served

  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • baked beans
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • apples
  • rice
  • cheese, or
  • fish sticks

And she absolutely "will not ever, never, eat a tomato."

Well-versed in her persnickety predilections, however, Lola's patient brother Charlie is a step ahead of her.

"That is lucky," announces Charlie, "because we are not having any of those things."

Yet there's something on the table that bears a suspicious resemblance to a bowl of carrots.

"These are not carrots," Charlie explains. "They are orange twiglets from Jupiter."

"They look just like carrots to me," Lola answers.

But of course they cannot be carrots because carrots do not grow on Jupiter.

"Well, " concedes Lola, "I might just try one if they're all the way from Jupiter."

Green drops from Greenland, cloud fluff from Mount Fuji and ocean nibbles from the mermaid supermarket explain away the peas, mashed potatoes and fish sticks that Charlie serves.

Lola is too busy "remembering" her visit to the mermaid supermarket to notice that she has sampled many novel delicacies from her list of despised foods.

She hasn't noticed? Think again!

Tomato in hand, Lola reports that moonsquirters are her favorite and for her big brother's puzzled expression, she's got a cheeky answer all lined up:

"You didn't think they were tomatoes, did you, Charlie?"

That's right, Charlie, two can play at that game!

In I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, as in all of Lauren Child's irresistible Charlie and Lola tales, Charlie is a caring big brother who always looks out for little Lola.

The Mermaid Supermarket!

Charlie and Lola: beyond Never Eat a Tomato

Whether he's helping her come to terms with the melting of yesterday's wonderful snow (Snow is My Favorite and My Best), or showing her that other books in the library may be okay if someone else has checked out her favorite (But Excuse Me That is My Book), he helpfully plays along with her little games but is ultimately trumped every time by this bright and trusting little girl who just needed a little encouragement. 

Lauren Child's books interestingly combine realistic photography with very simple, line drawn cartoons and text that warps and wiggles with the illustrations for an altogether very playful and active effect. Surprises and exaggerations await on every page and my own daughter delights in finding the little alien face in an otherwise ordinary bowl of peas.

For a little window on Lola's theatrically verbose, though not quite yet developed, attempts at self expression, here is a partial collection (go here for a more complete listing) of Charlie and Lola titles:

  • I Absolutely Must Do Coloring Now or Painting or Drawing
  • You Can Be My Friend
  • I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed
  • Boo! Made You Jump
  • I Want to be Much More Bigger Like You
  • I Can Do Anything That's Everything All on my Own
  • I Completely Must Do Drawing Now
  • But I am an Alligator
  • My Extremely Smallish Little Library
  • I am Really, Really Concentrating
  • I'm Just not Keen on Spiders
  • I am Absolutely Too Small for School
  • Snow is my Favorite and my Best
  • But, Excuse Me, That is my Book
  • I'm Really Ever Not So Well
  • We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog
  • This is Actually My Party
  • Say Cheese!
  • My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Fall Out
  • Whoops! But It Wasn't Me
  • I've Won, No I've Won, No I've Won
  • Sizzles is Completely Not Here
  • I am Completely Absolutely Boiling
  • I Completely Know All About Guinea Pigs
  • Help! I Really Mean It
  • You Won't Like This Present As Much As I Do
  • Look After Your Planet
  • I Will Be Especially Very Careful, and
  • I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato

In 2005, Charlie and Lola was adapted into a television series which airs weekday mornings on the Disney Channel. Older series titles (Volumes 1-8) are available on DVD.

Charming, quirky, slightly retro, and so immensely loveable, the whole family will enjoy the endearingly humorous and realistic struggles of Lauren Child's dynamic duo.

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