Leo is a new cat owner who knows nothing about felines. He is especially clueless about how to feed his fluffy kitten. At least he knows enough to give her a perfectly serviceable name—Sugar.

Leo has a slice of chocolate layer cake left over from his birthday and offers it to the hungry Sugar. To Leo’s surprise, Sugar simply stares at Leo and refuses the delicious treat. Leo and the confederacy of dunces who live in his apartment building try to reason with the recalcitrant kitty. Ezra the plumber tells Leo that “my dad always told me to drink my milk or I wouldn’t grow up big and strong.” Sugar doesn’t buy that line.

Leo collects other pearls of adult wisdom that will seem unpleasantly familiar to the child reader. Leo exhorts, “You are not leaving this table until you eat up all that cake!” And of course, what book about children and food would be complete without, “Just four bites. Four bites and then you can be done”?

Poor Leo. Poor Sugar. Will Sugar starve? Will Leo ever figure out how to handle his kitty? Such drama!

Reading Sugar Would Not Eat It to a group of picky seven- and eight-year-olds was a treat. By the end, they were smacking their foreheads and predicting what the adults would say next to Leo and Sugar. They were calling out suggestions and laughing at the kinds of things adults say to get them to eat their supper.

Potter’s flat, mixed-media paintings are the perfect foil for this hilarious tale. Picture the adults, exhausted from their efforts to force-feed a cat, collapsed on the floor and counters of a retro green kitchen while Sugar bounds away from the dreaded cake. And who couldn’t love Harriet, the elderly lady downstairs, sitting on her lawn chair, wearing knee-highs and white pumps? These details might be lost on the young reader, but they offer a bonus for the adult who will be reading this one again and again.

Picky eaters with a sly sense of humor will ask for a second helping.

 

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