This Is Why We’re Fat – The Book Version (Part 1)

Aside from the obsession with literary blogs, lifestyle blogs and design blogs, I also adore a good many food blogs. A popular website This Is Why You’re Fat, has the public sending in photo evidence of the fattiest, sugariest treats humans could ever dream of consuming. If gluttony was a crime as well as a sin, Net Nanny would be blacklisting that site faster than I can ask: “Does my butt look big in this?”

Thankfully, we can look at these savage morsels without the repercussions ending up on our bellies, hips, thighs…our tastebuds can tremble, but that’s as far as it goes, and we are saved from at least one guilty pleasure in life. Or so it would seem…

Why is it that certain books feature the most mouth-watering, epic feasts known to mankind?!

I blame Enid Blyton (in part). One of the first books I ever read, a picture book of hers entitled The Little Button Elves, was about several identical little elves who could only be told apart by the amount of buttons on their jackets, and so the numbers became their names (“One”,”Two”,”Seven” etc).

On their adventures in the woods they meet an old dame who has a number of freshly baked pies sitting in a glorious pile on her windowsill. The woman tells the elves not to eat the pies, but of course as soon as she leaves the room the pies are devoured and the elves run off. Turns out, however, that the old dame is a witch and enchanted the pies, knowing that the elves couldn’t help themselves. A little while away, the elves’ bellies full of pie are growing at an alarming rate until the buttons on their jackets begin to pop free! And so they can’t tell one another apart! Distressed and dismayed, they return to the dame’s house filled with remorse, and she is kind enough to sew their buttons back on their jackets (but not without telling them first that all they had to do was count the buttonholes – hah)!

I suppose the moral of the story is DON’T BE GREEDY, but I remember often flicking back through the pages to the picture of the pies on the windowsill, and thinking in my child-mind: “I wouldn’t mind growing fat by enchantment if I could eat one of those pies.” And so it began.
Nosiree, this isn’t where Enid Blyton’s literary food crimes end. I can’t count the number of times I attempted to host a Secret Seven clubhouse in our backyard, roping my mum into providing the scones and homemade lemonade that Janet’s mum seemed to whip up so effortlessly each meeting. And the Famous Five picnics! With ginger beer and those thick slices of ham on heavily buttered bread! The Folk of the Faraway Tree wasn’t doing me any favours either – I could literally feel the flood of honey from Silky’s pop biscuits and smell the deliciously steamy google buns offered by Moonface.

But it was the midnight feast in The Adventures of the Wishing Chair that undid me each and every time- had me begging my parents to go to the nearest grocery outlet in search of treacles and raspberry tarts, chocolate eclairs, marzipan and scotch eggs…I didn’t know what half these things were, but I knew they were disgustingly droolworthy and it ruined shaped my healthy eating habits childhood for a very long time forever. 

Yet as much I would like to place the blame squarely on her, Enid Blyton isn’t the only author sending me subliminal messages to eat, and I intend on outing these literary food criminals in Part 2 of ‘This Is Why We’re Fat – The Book Version’.

CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK: Tempany Deckert

As a kid growing up on a farm on the outskirts of Melbourne, children’s books were my sanctuary.

They were the closest group of friends an isolated girl could ask for. They provided me with reassurance and inspiration whenever loneliness got the better of me. The Magic Faraway Tree gave me hope that sheep, snakes and chooks weren’t my only friends. If I looked hard enough, I could find magical lands, pixies, sprites and a cavalcade of fun friends. Came Back To Show You I Could Fly taught me all about city kids and the harmful affects of drug and alcohol abuse, So Much To Tell You showcased bravery and finding your own voice, and The Secret Seven surrounded me with the close-knit group of friends that I’d always pined for. To Kill A Mockingbird transported me to a faraway land called America that as an adult I now call home. 

So, not surprisingly, the books I’ve written all deal with isolated kids trying to find connection in the world too. I hope they provide kids with warmth, comfort, and a trusted friend when there’s no one else to turn to. The Fashion Police are two shy teen girls who manage to generate new friends and acceptance when they design cool clothes for their peer group. Radio Rebels are a bunch of kids in a small country town who challenge the status quo when they start up a youth radio station. But my new young adult novel, ITS YR LIFE, portrays two teens from vastly different worlds that discover that friendship knows no bounds when push comes to shove. 

If it weren’t for children’s books, my childhood could have been a very lonely one. But instead, I was surrounded with a slew of positive and inspiring peers. The fact that they were fictional made no difference. In my child’s mind those characters were possibly even more authentic than the real people that surrounded me. For that reason, I love children’s books and I feel very lucky to be able to create new ones.