FRAGMENTS FROM THIS BOOK ABOUT VEGS:
The Vegetable Kingdom
We, the vegetables, are quite upsest. People know so little about all the good things we do for them! We feed them, and we help them when they're sick in so many ways. We give them the very best present there is: all the warmth of the sun that our leaves gather, and all the moisture of the earth collected by our roots. How we could possibly tell you about all these wonderful treasures. What should we do? Did somebody say, "Ask the scientists to write books about vegetables"? Hm! They've already written all sorts of books about us. But grown-ups don't read them to children, and children need vegetables more than anyone else! So, to help us make friends with the children, we decided to tell you all these stories.
The Enchanted Pumpkin
A New Friend
Where the Cucumber Came From
The Squash and patison
The Carrot Girl
The Council of Rootland
The Legend of the Carrot
Why Gnomes Love Carrots
The Three Beets
Adventures of a White Radish
Tale of a Rutabaga
The Radish and the Fruitful Fairy
The Tomato Kingdom
How the Tomato Made Friends with Man
The Miraculous Powder
The Seven Cabbage Sisters
How the Cabbage Got Here
The Vegetable Family
My Potato, the Saviour
The Good Little Potato
The Potato Chemist
The Three Onion Brothers
The Onion Family
How Sir Eggplant Fixed His Teeth
The Bean Family
The Pea Prince
The Green Bean Soldier
The Singing Kidney Bean
The Lentil Healer
The Magic Soy Bean
Travels of a Soy Bean
Pete and the Parley
The Lettuce Girl
A Dill Bouquet
Introducing the Pepper Boys
The Hot Red Pepper
The Pepper Seed
How the Hot Pepper Got Sweet
The Vegetable Hospital
Methodological Material (32 example lessons on vegetables)
How the hot pepper got sweet
A long time ago in a village in China there lived a young man named Shen, who inherited from his parents an old hut with a modest garden. There he grew vegetables, which he sold at the market - except that he gave away more than he sold, for no sooner did Shen see a poor man than he would feed him, no sooner did he see a hungry child, than he gave away a handful of sweet corn. Shen always worked diligently, and nowhere did any vegetables ever grow better than in his garden, but he gave away so many to the needy people of the surrounding villages that often there was not enough left for him to live on until the next harvest. One time he was left with nothing but a single bitter red pepper. Normally Shen added a few bits of hot pepper to his boiled rice to make it a little more appetizing, but this time there was not a single grain of rice left in the whole house.
"Well, little red pepper, if you were sweet I could have you for my dinner," said Shen. "But you are too bitter, my friend."
Shen put the red pepper in his pocket and set off to look for work in the hopes of somehow feeding himself until the springtime.
Soon young Shen found work with a rich man, who agreed to pay him with a sack of rice for his labors. He had to work very hard, and the rich man fed him poorly. More than once his stomach growled from hunger. One night he was so hungry that he couldn't sleep. He fingered the pepper in his pocket and dreamed of going home and raising vegetables in his own garden.
Suddenly the little pepper spoke up. "Listen to me, Shen, when you're having your dinner tomorrow, pinch off a tiny piece of me and mix it with the handful of rice they give you."
The young man thought he must be imagining things, but even so the next day he remembered the pepper's advice and added a little bit of red vegetable to his rice. That handful of rice fed him so well that he felt as if he had been treated to a feast.
"Even a bitter pepper from your own home can taste sweet when you're off among strangers," Shen thought, and at that instant he heard in reply the same voice as the day before:
"Every day add a little piece of me to your rice, just the tiniest piece, so that I'll last a long time, and I'll help you keep up your strength."
Now sure that his red pepper really was talking to him, Shen answered:
"Thank you, little pepper, for helping my out in my troubles, but can you tell me, please, why I get so much energy from so little?"
"Because you cared for me with love as I grew in your garden," the pepper replied.
Suddenly Shen grew sad.
"If I eat you all up, you'll be gone and I'll lose a very kind friend."
"Don't worry," the pepper assured him. "Save my seeds, and plant them in your garden in the spring, and I will come back."
Which is exactly what the young man did. The little pepper gave him strength to keep on working until the spring, and then he went to his master for payment.
"I don't have any rice right now. Come and see me in the autumn, after the new harvest, then you will receive your bag of rice," the rich man said, hoping that by then he would find a way to get out of paying his young worker.
Poor Shen was very hungry, but soon after the first green shoots appeared there were onions and radishes to eat. As always, his vegetables were the very best, and best of all were the peppers, which hung on their stems like giant, luscious red drops, much bigger and sweeter than the little pepper whose seeds they grew from.
The young farmer was overjoyed. "Such wonderful peppers are not just fit for seasoning, why, they are delicious all by themselves!"
Before long Shen heard that his old master was selling rice at the market, so he gathered his peppers and set off for town. No sooner did the rich man catch sight of his young worker than he thought up an excuse for not paying his debt.
"We agreed that I would pay you with last year's rice, and there isn't any left," he said, but then he noticed the luscious peppers in Shen's basket and made an offer.
"Well now, then, perhaps I could give you a bag of rice in exchange for your basket of peppers. What would one person do with so much pepper? One huge pepper like that is enough to spice up the food of an entire family for a year."
"I don't think so," the young man replied. "I can eat a whole pepper in a single meal."
"Humph, what a liar you are! You'd set your mouth on fire! Tell you what, for every one of those peppers you can eat in a single sitting I'll give you a bag of rice," the rich man said slyly, hoping to make a fool of the trusting young man.
Imagine his surprise when Shen began to calmly tuck back one huge pepper after another! After the tenth one the rich man could bear it no longer and he shouted, "Enough, enough, this is some kind of trick!"
But all the people at the market had seen the rich man make his bet with Shen, and he had no choice but to pay up honestly. His furious face was as red as a pepper when he left the market, while the kindly Shen invited the hungry people from all around to a feast of rice and vegetables.
Every year the peppers in his garden grew bigger and sweeter. And that's how we got the delicious sweet red pepper.
Questions and Exercises
Were there ever times in your life when someone else's kindness helped you out of a difficult situation?
What would the world be like if there were no kindness?
Game: "Pass the Kindness"
One person must say something kind to someone else and take him or her by the hand. Together they must think of something kind to say to a third person, and then that person also joins them. The three of them then say something kind to a fourth person, and the game continues until all the children are holding hands. Standing in a circle together, the children can then learn and sing a song about kindness.
Picture: "The Sun of Kindness"
Draw your sun of kindness, with one ray for each kind thing you have done in your life.
Why Gnomes Love Carrots
"A long time ago in the lands beneath the earth there lived a race of little people called gnomes, and if there were any treasure to be found buried in the rocks and soil, the gnomes would know where to find it..." the grandmother's fairy tale began.
Her young granddaughters were all ears as the voice they loved told them a tale of how once upon a time a poor woodcutter mistakenly left his bundle behind in the forest, and in that bundle was his lunch of steamed carrots. The gnomes found the bundle and tried the carrots - and loved them so much that to thank him they tied a gold ingot up in the bundle, and left it on the very same spot. The next day the woodcutter returned for his bundle and was very surprised! Suddenly he wasa rich man! Overcome by greed, he used the gold to buy a huge field and planted it all with carrots. For a whole year he took bundles of carrots to the forest, hoping that again they would be mysteriously replaced with gold ingots, but they always turned out empty, for the forest creatures were just as happy as the gnomes to enjoy the tasty treat.
"And to this day foolish people take bags of carrots to the forest in the hopes of becoming rich, but alas, they never find anything in them."
With these words the grandmother finished her story. After all had been kissed goodnight, a sleepy Maria asked her sister, "What do you think gnomes are like?'
Her sister laughed. "They must be pretty special if they get to live in fairy tales."
All night Maria thought about the gnomes, and the next day she asked her grandmother to steam some carrots for lunch. After the heaping bowl was set on the table, Maria waited anxiously until her grandmother was looking the other way, and then slipped a few into her pocket. After lunch she tied them into a bundle and set off for the woods.
It was a little scary to be in the woods all by herself, but she wanted so badly to see a gnome that she forgot all about being frightened. She stopped in a thicket of bilberries beneath a tall pine tree, took out the bundle of carrots and set it on the ground. Above it she hung a sign that read: "Dear gnomes, please help yourselves. I don't want your gold, but I really want to see you."
The next day Maria could hardly contain herself when when she opened the bundle and found a little gem-bag and a note written on green paper. Trembling with excitment, she read the words: "Dear Maria, thank you for the delicious carrots. If you want to see us, squeeze one eye shut and look into this bag with the other."
Holding her breath, Maria closed one eye as tight as she could, and brought the little bag up to the open one. Inside she saw an old, red-faced little man wearing a green shirt that fell almost to his feet. He was peering carefully into a delicate silver-framed mirror and combing his long beard.
"Is that you, Maria? Let me introduce myself. I'm the chief woodsman of the gnomes," he explained, bowing slightly in a friendly manner.
"Hello," Maria replied in a voice that was just as warm and friendly as his. "Tell me, please, why are you wearing such a long shirt?"
"Well, now, Maria, that's my nightshirt. I spent the wole night gathering strawberries from our woodland plantations and now I'm getting ready for bed."
"Please, stay up and talk to me, if only for a minute," Maria hurriedly asked the gnome. "Tell me why you like carrots so much?"
" Like them? My goodness, that's hardly the word. To tell you the truth, hm, well, the thing is that gnomes grow very slowly. We're lucky to put on two or three inches in a thousand years. Carrots help us grow faster, you see. Do you know about the carrot's secrect treasure, carotene? No? Well, no sooner does it get inside your stomach than it turns into a vitmin that makes you grow. And if you don't get enough of it, you get what we call "chicken-eyes", you can't see so well in the dark. And there's nothing worse for a gnome - we live below the ground, you know," he explained, for he saw that Maria was looking a bid puzzled. "Also carrots are very good for colds, for headaches and for wounds, if you cut yourself, for example. Ouch!" The gnome smiled. "And if you want rosy-red cheeks, eat a carrot every day. Just look at me now that I've feasted on your wonderful gift!"
Maria was delighted with her new friend.
"Tell me, please, too, Mr. Gnome, do you only eat steamed carrots?"
"Oh my, no, gnomes eat raw carrots, too, but for my old teath the soft steamed ones are a lot easier to handle. I'm nearly 800, you know. And speaking of time, it's time for my rest," the gnome said, and with that he disappeared.
Later that day Maria got the rest of the leftover carrots from her grandmother and took them out into the woods. Three times she returned to the old pine tree, carrying bunches of fresh carrots she had secretly pulled from her grandmother's garden. Her grandmother was quite upset when she discovered the vegetables were missing, but she blamed the neighbors' boys - certainly Maria couldn't have taken them!
When it was already starting to get dark, Maria again raised the little bag to her eye. This time her gnome-friend was dressed in a green caftan with scarlet trim, and on his head he wore a green cap with a tassel. He was even more striking than before, but not nearly so friendly.
"Good evening, did you like my carrots?" she asked.
The gnome wrinkled his face and looked very stern.
"Maria, you pulled those carrots out of your grandmother's garden without asking, and she blamed those boys. If we wanted to we could have burrowed into her garden ourselves, or into any other garden in the world, carrots grow everywhere, you know. But no gnome would ever touch something that wasn't his."
"Dear gnome, I'm sorry, please forgive me. I'll tell granny, and next year I'll plant carrots myself." She brightened. "If you like I can bring you some carrot seeds, and you can grow your own carrots here in the woods."
Now the old wood gnome smiled.
"Don't worry, Maria, we're not angry with you. True, you stole the carrots , but it wasn't for yourself. You only wanted to help us. And thank you for your kind offer of the seeds, but in the woods the carrots would soon go wild, and though a wild carrot is still good for you, it's got no carotene."
The next year Maria planted her own carrots, just as she'd promised, and took them to the gnomes. Always she remembered to share with them. Even when she grew up and studied all about vegetables and grew all sorts of wonderful kinds of carrots, she would always take the very brightest orange ones to the gnomes, since the oranger the carrot, the more carotene it has. And the gnomes were especially happy in their underground homes when she brought Vitamin carrots, which have twice as much carotene as any other kind.
FRUITS ::: VEGS
The book on healthy food for kids
"The World of Vegetable":