Valerie Gent is a Paediatric Feeding Speech Pathologist and this is her first children’s book, dedicated to her two sons, who in her words, “have taught me all that I know about being a parent and have made me analyse the feeding strategies I use [and] what works in a busy family today”. Valerie has used her vast experience with children who have feeding difficulties to create this story, which draws on Ellyn Satter’s “Division of Responsibility” philosophy. The Ellyn Satter Institute has mentored Valerie with the wording of this story, and given this book their seal of approval as a feeding therapy resource.
Billy does not like to eat dinner. Every night his family would sit down at the table to eat, and every night Billy would come up with some way to avoid eating his dinner. Who wants to sit at the table and eat dinner anyway?! Billy would much rather be painting, or playing fire-rescue, or making a cave. His parents are worried, so they use bribes and threats – ‘No dessert!’, ‘It’s your favourite’, ‘We’ll give it you for breakfast!’; but no matter what they say, Billy won’t come to the table, and everyone ends up very cross.
One night, Billy’s family do something different. Instead of pressuring Billy to eat his dinner, his family say it’s ok if you’re not hungry. They invite him to come to the table and just sit with everyone. They share a funny story, and everyone smiles. Billy feels a grumbling in his tummy… Maybe he is a little bit hungry after all?
This book is for all parents who worry about their pre-schoolers and food intake, and will be relatable to every child who has gone through the typical developmental stage of funny eating. Dinners can be an overwhelming time for young children, and this book explores a typical family’s approach to meals and food, while demonstrating simple ways to reduce pressure and make mealtimes enjoyable again through the colourful and emotive illustrations. When Billy’s Grandma changes the focus from the food to the interaction and communication around the table, Billy wants to join everyone at the table, and is able to listen to his body without pressure.
The book includes background information which delves into the subtleties behind the story and the illustrations, as well as a list of strategies to try for families who are struggling with children who are fussy eaters.