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City Beet

by Tziporah Cohen and Udayana Lugo (ill.)

l to r: Tziporah Cohen and Udayana Lugo

With City Beet, Tziporah Cohen has penned a fun, breezy, heartwarming story about the challenge of uprooting a stubborn beet in time for the neighbourhood block party.

Victoria and Mrs. Kosta appear as a dynamic duo, separated by age and race, but joined in friendship with the quest of producing a beet and garlic salad for the potluck. And here’s where the hitch arises, as things don’t go quite exactly as planned.

Even though our heroines succeed in growing an enormous beetroot, the task of getting it out of the ground befuddles Mrs. Kosta. Readers learn about community helpers as a taxi driver, two police officers, a maintenance worker, a trash collector, and a bus driver all leap at the chance to dislodge the beetroot. Despite their best efforts, they continually hit a wall: “That big red beet wouldn’t budge. Not even ONE LITTLE BIT.”

Every time young Victoria offers her help, she finds herself rebuffed, despite the fact that she chose the recipe, helped grow the beet, and is preparing the salad’s many ingredients.

Cohen’s New York roots colour the imagery and feel of this story. There’s a wide cross-section of folk that could represent any big city globally. Udayana Lugo’s warm and lively illustrations perfectly capture the nuances of facial expressions.

City Beet demonstrates the pivotal role a small child can play, as Victoria and her tricycle contribute to the story’s defining moment: The adults who dismiss the power of Victoria’s contribution are missing the point. Victoria is not a passive spectator; rather, she is the engine that powers the entire story. Children are rarely given the credit they deserve, so young readers  will certainly catch on and enjoy this book’s significant message.

Ultimately, we’re treated to an idealized snapshot in time, with coming-together, struggle, overcoming, and jubilation. Not to mention a full-circle moment, as Victoria is inspired for her next culinary creation.

Cohen bookends the story with a note about the importance of communities: “How can you help people in your community get to know one another better?” A recipe is a great place to start – especially one shared with others.


Reviewer: Brian J. D’Souza

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press


Price: $24.99

Page Count: 40 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-53411-271-1

Released: March

Issue Date: March 2023

Categories: Kids’ Books, Picture Books

Age Range: 5–8