Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding from Caroline Feller Bauer’s New handbook for Storytellers: With Stories, Poems, Magic and More. Chicago: American Library Assoc., 1993.
Ethnic Origin: Unknown (I’d have to guess American)
Power Center(s): The hamburger dropping into the little boy’s mouth, and he found that he liked hamburger!
Characters: Little boy.
His parents, his grandparents, and aunt and uncle, and his brother.
Scenes: Little boy’s house.
Synopsis: This is a story about a little boy, who won’t eat anything but cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. He is offered a lamb chop by his mother, jello™ by his father, cookies and ice cream by his grandparents, and fried chicken by his aunt and uncle. He refuses to eat anything but cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. One day, as he is playing "puppy" on the floor, a bit of his brother’s hamburger falls into his mouth. To his surprise, it is good!
Rhymes/Special Phrases/Flavor: Repetition of "cheese, peas and chocolate pudding."
Audience (Why is story appropriate for the audience?)
This story is very appropriate for a preschool audience. Ellin Klor states in "Tickle Your Storybone" Humorous Storytelling! that preschool children blur the line between fantasy and reality, "especially when they are set in familiar situations. This story is set in the boy’s home, and makes use of foods that American preschool children will either recognize outright, or have heard of. Specifically, they will know: cheese, peas, chocolate pudding, Jello, ice cream, cookies, fried chicken and hamburger. (A lambchop might be a stretch, maybe I’ll change it to a steak, so they won’t think of the late Shari Lewis’s puppet.) The fantasy is that the child would be able to eat just his three favorite things, but kids would appreciate his ability to not have to eat things they don’t like. Charlotte Huck writes in Children’s Literature in the Elementary School that preschool children (ages 3-5), have a very short attention span, and that they rely on "firsthand experiences." This story is long enough to be a "complete" story, yet short enough that boredom shouldn’t be a problem. In addition, all the foods mentioned would be familiar to children of this age; they will have experienced them.
Ellin Greene defines some of the characteristics of a good story in Storytelling: Art and Technique. The story should have: a single theme, a well-developed plot, a brief opening then a quick "plunge into action." This story fits the bill. The theme is repeated over and over, cheese, peas and chocolate pudding, and doesn’t have any long-winded openings. According to Greene, this age children like rhythm and repetition (cheese, peas and chocolate pudding), and "direct plots in which familiarity is mixed with surprise." The plot couldn’t be more direct, boy eats only three things, refusing to try anything else, and the audience is almost as surprised as the boy is when he finds he likes hamburger. Of course, he tried it accidentally, which seems like a "comfortable" way to try something new at this age. The situation is simple, as Greene emphasizes, but contains "enough everyday events in it so children are not confused." The child plays "puppy", and is offered familiar foods. Greene tells us that they like stories in which children like themselves are featured, and most importantly, that rhythm in stories "comes primarily from the repetition of words and phrases in a set pattern." Well, cheese, peas and chocolate pudding is certainly a repetitive set of words. She recommends looking for "vivid word pictures, pleasing sounds, rhythm" Cheese, peas and chocolate pudding has them all.
Source(s) recommending it as good for storytelling:
The only source I could find is Caroline Feller Bauer’s New Handbook for Storytellers with Stories, Poems, Magic and More.
Bibliographic information on other variants (at least two):
I checked Storyteller’s Handbook: a Subject, Title and Motif Index under "Cheese" and only found " Fox flatters crow into singing and dropping cheese", "church made of cheese and bacon", "cheese thrown down to find way home", "fox tells wolf that moon’s reflection in ice is cheese" "diving for cheese (moon)", "Bergmannlein gives replenishing cheese", "cheese sent to bring others back", "contest in squeezing water from a stone, cheese is used". Subject heading "Food" yielded similar and invalid results such as: "Monkey shows edible foods to man" "inexhaustible food" and "trickster makes others think food is spoiled." No hits here. Under "Pudding" the variants suggest "Anansi and Moos Moos are caught stealing Kisander’s puddings from dookanoo tree", "flea suggests wood chopping contest, slips back and eats pudding", "milk pudding, girl must eat before they will hide her", "plum pudding, each turns bowl with plums on his side", "tiger told mud is king’s pudding" and "Tom Thumb in pudding" – again, no matches. Finally, under the section entitled "miscellaneous groups of motifs", there is a reference to "Old lady given handful of peas to sow." This is evidently a new story, without any variants.
Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability", flavor", content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.
No variants were found.
By Victoria Strickland-Cordial