In The Adventures of Tommy the Tomato, children will follow a somewhat sickly Tommy to school and learn through his classmates how he can be healthier by choosing good foods. Each classmate is a fruit, vegetable, or other whole food and represents a letter of the alphabet.
Jay Holt's book is a curriculum that meets the National Standards for Physical Education and Health for Grades K-4. Students will learn about healthy foods and the individual nutrients contained in those foods, which can help fight certain ailments and keep their bodies healthy. Included with the book are several activity ideas for further research that I think would be especially helpful for older students.
A Tommy the Tomato card game can also be purchased separately for $9.95 plus shipping and handling. These cards are great for reinforcing what's being taught. Instructions for three different games (Go Fish, Memory, and a Trivia game) can be found on Tommy the Tomato's website. There you can also find a link to Tommy's blog, which provides healthy tips and recipes to help your kids live a healthy lifestyle.
I plan on teaching nutrition to my three children this fall and will be including Tommy the Tomato in our study. The colorful illustrations and zany characters are sure to entertain my kindergartner, and I know my third grader will be able to complete many of the activity ideas. I do think my sixth grader is too old for this book, but he will still benefit from learning the health facts presented at the bottom of each page.
I would have liked to see more variety in sentence structure, especially with the introductory sentence on each page. I also feel that Tommy's symptoms being radically and immediately changed as the result of eating certain foods could be misleading to kids. While I am extremely health conscious and use whole foods and other natural remedies to treat my own kids when they aren't feeling well, they almost never experience instant relief. I think Holt does convey that an overall healthy diet will help prevent certain illnesses and keep our bodies in tip-top shape, and this is the point I will emphasize to my children.
Overall, I think this book is an inexpensive and fun way to introduce young children to a variety of healthy foods. I would recommend this book to parents or teachers who are looking for ways to get pre-school and young elementary students excited about taking care of their bodies.