Title: Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles
Author: Rupert Kingfisher
Illustrator: Sue Hellard
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Concepts: Child Schooling and Work, Goods/Services, Producers/Consumers, Wants/Needs
Review: Don’t be deceived by the title, the main character and hero of Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles is actually someone children will find it easy to relate to – a young girl named Madeleine. Each summer, while her parents are vacationing, Madeleine is sent off to Paris to work in her uncle’s restaurant. Because of his insecurities as a chef, her uncle, Monsieur Lard, forbids his talented niece from cooking, assigning her instead to washing dishes and other cleaning. When Monsieur Lard realizes that he might be able to replicate Madame Pamplemousse’s Most Incredible Edible Ever Tasted and pass it off as his own creation, he volunteers Madeleine to work as Madame Pamplemousse’s assistant, hoping his niece will be able to obtain access to the recipe. It is here that Madeleine is taught more about cooking to enhance her talent.
For a book that is widely imaginative in many other areas (for instance, Madame Pamplemousse’s cat is also a chef), the text is accurate and realistic in terms of economic concepts. It is clearly delineated throughout that goods are bought and sold with money (or an occasional barter) and that consumers’ demands can influence what producers sell.
In addition, children will be able to clearly see what makes a good employer by the sharp contrast between Monsieur Lard and Madame Pamplemousse. These two characters also highlight the difference between wants and needs. Monsieur Lard engages in workplace bullying and wants to be the most famous chef alive. Madame Pamplemousse, on the other hand, treats Madeleine with respect and does not want to become famous “for she makes enough to get by and is happy each day to awake at dawn, drink a small black coffee and open up her shop, serving her customers and meeting with her suppliers” (page 6).
While this chapter book seems long at first glance, the large text and the many illustrations interspersed throughout help make this book a fairly quick read.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children