Acclaimed illustrator and author Anita Lobel first published Potatoes, Potatoes in 1967. Now illustrated in full color, Potatoes, Potatoes is being reissued at a time when the book's themes are perhaps more poignant and meaningful than ever.
The story begins with two countries, "one in the east, the other in the west. One day they started a war with each other. No one had time to take care of the fields or the cows or the chickens." But one woman who lived between the two countries didn't bother with the war. Building a wall around her home, she protects her two sons and raises potatoes in a large field.
When the two sons are grown, they join the ranks of the marching soldiers. One son becomes a general in the army of the east, with its bright red uniforms, while the other is drawn to the army of the west, with its blue uniforms and shiny medals.
Later, after many battles at the head of their armies, the two brothers realize there is nothing left to eat in the east or in the west. Nothing, that is, except their mother's potatoes. When the two armies crash through the wall, a furious battle for the potatoes begins. The battle destroys the family's home, and the boys' mother lies on the ground.
The battle stops. As it turns out, the mother is not dead, but before she agrees to feed anyone, she gives all the soldiers an order dear to any mother's heart: "you must promise to stop all the fighting and clean up this mess and go home to your mothers."The book closes with the soldiers returning home and singing the songs their mothers taught them. The brothers help their mother fix everything that was broken and rebuild their home. But they do not rebuild the wall.
This beautifully illustrated book is sure to find a place in the hearts of a new generation. Potatoes, Potatoes has special significance because of Anita Lobel's own experiences as a World War II survivor, described in her award-winning autobiography, No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War. Deborah Hopkinson's latest picture book for children is entitled A Packet of Seeds.