V is for Vegan

V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind by Ruby Roth
Published by North Atlantic Books

I am impressed by this charming little picture book. I have the hardback and it is good quality. The binding and paper are a pleasure to handle and I feel do the subject matter a great deal of justice. Any child who is a vegan would benefit: to help inform their friends about their diet and/or to learn more about it themselves. I have many books about children from all sorts of backgrounds, families, etc and I noticed that I didn’t have anything on veganism for young children. This book is the perfect start. The pictures are very cute and it has a charm and simplicity that children will enjoy whilst gently introducing issues that they can start to understand.

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book about Vegans, Vegetarians and All Living Things
by Ruby Roth 
Published by North Atlantic Books

Taking the subject further, the illustrations in this book are poignantly beautiful.  Roth’s artwork is stunning and the cover doesn’t quite portray how good the pictures, layout and text are. So many children’s books show cute pictures of animals living happily on farms. Yet, the reality is often so very different.  Roth leads us gently by the hand to look at the lives of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, pigs, cows, fish, the ocean, the rainforest and endangered species and shows us how our choices make a difference.

“On factory farms, cows are unable to be with their families, stretch, or chew fresh grass under the sun. They’re fed corn, which fattens them and gives them stomaches and gas.”

“We must consider how the foods we eat affect the planet.”

“A factory-farm pig may spend her whole life alone, fattened in a pen so tiny that she won’t even be able to turn around. A free pig never poops where she eats or sleeps, but on a factory farm she has no choice.”

I really enjoyed both of these books and think they have a lot of points that children can think about and discuss in class and at home.  As Ruby Roth says in the trailer for the book, many children have questions about why people become vegan and I think many adults, who are not vegan, are unable to answer those questions. Adults can get very defensive about their choices and naivety and perhaps truly believe that to be a good parent you must give your child cows milk for calcium and meat for protein.  It’s very hard to face the truth and realise that milk marketing campaigns and cheap meat aren’t good for anyone’s health.

I went to Roth’s website and took a look at her other books.

I have ordered both. Vegan is Love is ridiculously described by a Fox News child psychologist as

“The most disturbing children’s book I have ever seen”

Therefore, I urge every librarian to order it, read it and discuss the news clip with students AND get them to research both sides of the argument.  A great project for any class.

Here is the clip:

Another picture book that also caused some controversy, although for different reasons, is

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
Published by Two Hoots

I wasn’t sure if I liked this book when I first read it.  It won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and the illustrations are truly beautiful but the content, I wondered, wasn’t quite what I thought.  I like collective nouns but a ‘smack of jellyfish’?  I always thought it was a ‘bloom of jellyfish’.  But, no it is both and as an aside my research led me to this lovely site smack of jellyfish where a graphic artist, Sarah Asper-Smith, has created a book of A-Z collective nouns called ‘Have You Ever Seen a Smack of Jellyfish?”


Anyway, back to the point, in the picture book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, Roth writes

“Animals belong in families, packs, herds and flocks.’

And, Smith’s book adds to that discussion.  And the controversy?  The tribe of kids are drawn with feathers in the hair suggesting they are playing ‘Indian’.  There is a good article published in the School Library Journal here https://www.slj.com/2016/07/diversity/there-is-a-tribe-of-kids-generates-controversy-among-librarians/#_

It’s worth reading and thinking about.

Images below are from the book.




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