The Sandwich Swap

Of course you know by now that I’m a sucker for a story that features food. Queen Rania’s picture book, The Sandwich Shop, is a food story, but it also encourages kids to be open to new experiences and different traditions. Delicious and instructive – a winning combination.

In general, I’m not a big fan of “celebrity picture books,” but I think this one deserves a recommendation. It is simple, and Tricia Tusa’s winning illustrations are wonderfully whimsical, a combination that makes a charming book that kids will enjoy and that could easily serve as a launch for classroom discussions and lessons.

There is often drama in the lunch room, right? It’s where many friendships begin and end. It’s where trades are negotiated and unwanted sandwiches get surreptitiously tossed so that mom will “never find out.” This story is about two girls who are friends in every way, even though Salma eats a hummus sandwich everyday and Lily goes for PB & J. This isn’t an issue for quite some time until one day Lily can’t keep her true feelings quiet any longer. She tells her friend that her hummus sandwich looks yucky. Salma responds by saying that Lily’s sandwich looks gross and smells bad. That’s all it takes for the perfect friendship to disintegrate. And you know how it goes with insults; they have a way of catching on. In the end, a massive food fight erupts. Eventually the girls mend things. All it takes is a little openmindedness and a few bites of the other’s lunch to realize that different doesn’t mean disgusting. Different can be exciting and interesting and delicious.

The message is not complicated, and it might be a shade too-good-to-be-true, but sometimes you need a book like that and I do think it will achieve its goal, getting kids to consider that diversity is cool and one of the best parts of life. Of course they will relate to the experience of having their lunches “judged.” It happens all the time. I think that this concept was a clever and non-intimidating choice for getting kids talking about themes of tolerance, inclusion and difference.

The Sandwich Shop is published by Disney Hyperion.

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