Feed Me Right Book Reviews October 01 2007

Healthy Options

August 2007

Reviewed by Helen Adams. 

This is another of those great books aimed at the younger generation. Its presentation is fun and funky which will definitely appeal to its target audience. This is a clever mix of cool and entertaining illustrations and serious information. It teaches the all-important messages of the link between the food we eat and the health of our bodies. We are stepped through the different food types, what they are needed for and what our body does with them. This book would make an excellent classroom resource.

Parenting Magazine

Spring 2007

Imagine your teenager actually choosing to eat well. This new book by Dee and Tamarin Pigneguy is designed to appeal to teenagers, but actually makes the whole idea of nutrition know-how and body science appealing to all age groups. Feed Me Right is a clever attempt to explain how the right fuel for their body works. It explains what happens to food from the moment it slips past your lips, until it plops out the other end. Its quirky illustrations and lateral approach feel like it would appeal not only to "young scientists", but also to teenagers who are interested in their sport, and to parents who may find the whole healthy food subject hard to communicate. If you want your kids to understand the food pryramid, the lifecycle, about fats and carbohydrates, sucrose, bacteria, pH levels, anti-oxidants, processed foods, vegetables, genes, digestion process - it's all in this book!

It has got the feel of a Richard Scary book for older kids on the subject of the body's digestive processes, and the input of the right foods in relation to the output of energy and health. In fact, those on staff at Parents Inc. with teenagers think it hits the right mark with its quirkiness yet factual information.


Review by Estelle Geddes

"Hi there, Grandma Chook. I've just eaten a poisonous gelato." 

These words, spoken gleefully by her mischievous grand-daughter, hit Dee Pigneguy like a thunderbolt. Dedicated to promoting the principles and practices of producing and eating healthy nutritious food, she had passed this awareness on to her children and grand-children. Her grand-daughter was delighted to have eaten a 'forbidden food'. Would she show as much delight in eating an organically grown raw carrot?  Dee thought not. The challenge, surely, was to present and emphasise the positive aspects of healthy living in an interesting and lively format. And so began the collaboration with her daughter, Tamarin, that would lead, four years later, to the publication of Feed Me Right, a guide to 'Nutritional Know-How and Body Science.'  

Mother and daughter brought a wealth of expertise to the task. Dee taught at Intermediate schools, teaches inorganic gardening skills, is an environmentalist, health writer and the author of four books. Tamarin has a background in applied science and Chinese medicine and has been practising in the field of complementary medicine for eleven years. Tamarin knows what the body needs to be healthy and why. Dee knows how to meet those needs. They make a good team. The result is a bright, lively book that will certainly capture the interest of its intended readers. Developed initially as a children's book, it became clear to the authors that the group it is most suitable for is teenagers. Ideally they hope to engage teenage boys in particular as they tend to be less interested than girls in issues of health and development. Boys are often reluctant readers too. So the book should be eye-catching and appealing. It is but this book, I believe, will appeal to a far wider audience.  

Careful selection has been made, from the vast amount of information available, to ensure the reader isn't pushed into overload. On each page a combination of text, text boxes and quirky illustrations laid out in clear print and bright colours make the information feel accessible and easily digested. Research activities and experiments are suggested to support and develop understanding. Carving a face on an apple, then placing the apple in a heated oven for twenty minutes will demonstrate the effects of dehydration vividly. Three pages devoted to water leave one in no doubt as to why it is a precious resource and essential for our well-being. I topped up my water glass frequently while reading.  

Titbits of background information are fascinating. The Hunza people in the  Himalayas and the Okinawan people of Japan live to be well over a hundred and, more importantly, are free of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. They eat fresh whole foods only. I make a resolution.

I am surprised to learn that the Food Pyramid that has been used for many years in New Zealand to promote healthy nutrition was developed in the States and has never been formally adopted here. The authors point out the deficiencies in this model and offer one with eight tiers, the bottom one being exercise, followed by water. 

The text is usually pitched well for the intended audience so it is very noticeable when, occasionally, it sounds a little stuffy.  

'If you want to be fit and healthy...' sounds more natural than the authors' choice: 'If you aspire to be fit and healthy...' but this is a very minor criticism.  

The text is supported by delightful illustrations, conveying the essential information simply and clearly. 'TAKE YOUR BRAIN SHOPPING' is written on the side of a shopping trolley, while a cute creature holds a long shopping list. He points to the contents written above in bold colours: fish, carrots, nuts... The appendices include a number of websites for those who want to know more and are an additional way of engaging the adolescent male. The summing up is short, clear and simple.  

However it is the illustration on the cover that provides the clue to the book's greatest strength. A boy with dancing eyes and a big smile is hurtling through space inside a space craft. 

"Come on a journey and explore the wonders of the human body - YOUR body" says the text inside and later 'Your body is truly as vast and exciting to discover as the universe and all its stars.' 

This book doesn't preach. It transforms the reader into an explorer, a researcher and a detective. Armed with the information, the reader makes the choices. It is the body saying to the brain "feed me right."

This is an invaluable resource that should be read by adults as well as adolescents. It would also be a wonderful resource to support the curriculum in intermediate and secondary schools.