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Recent Reading: The Search for Delicious, by Natalie Babbitt

We liked Tuck Everlasting so much that we decided to get another book by Natalie Babbitt. We weren’t disappointed.

-Natalie Babbitt, The Search for Delicious (1969)

The Search for Delicious is a fairy tale of sorts. It involves an attempt at defining the word ‘delicious.’ Each member of the kingdom has his or her own opinion. Delicious is an apple; delicious is fried fish, etc. Needless to say, no one can agree on a way to describe what delicious is. This leads to a massive polling of the kingdom, carried out by the main character, a young man/boy named Vaungaylen.

There is  a wicked villain in the story who attempts a massive coup. There are dwarfs and mermaids. It’s a great fairy story. But the argument over what is delicious is the central running theme. Arguments break out everywhere the question is asked, until they surprisingly find something that everyone in the kingdom can agree is delicious. Many of the reviews of the book I’ve read emphasize the attention on diversity and disagreement, and how everyone can ‘find a way to get along in the end.’ But I don’t really think that’s the point at all. They really do agree in the end. There really is something delicious that all can agree on, despite their differing tastes. I won’t spoil the story, but I’ll say this: the thing they all agree is delicious is something that they do not appreciate until it is almost taken away.

This is a beautiful children’s story. It’s funny, it’s serious, and it tackles the interesting issue of objectivity and subjectivity, and how there is something that is objectively delicious, but we often fail to realize it because of our subjective situations. This one goes onto my recommended reading for children list.

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