Matt Bell delivers a timeless moral in his children’s picture book The Jellies and the Crunchers.
A town is populated by two groups who dislike each other: Jellies, who only eat jelly, and Crunchers, who only eat crackers. One day, the Jellies and Crunchers both arrive at a park strewn with the remnants of prior outings—because the Jellies refuse to clean up crumbs, and the Crunchers won’t clean jelly.
Tensions rise, and a giant food fight erupts, with crackers and jelly flying. When it’s over, the Jellies and Crunchers taste the mixtures that cover their bodies and discover that the combination of jelly and crackers is delicious. Soon, children raised as Jellies are buying crackers, and vice versa, all calling themselves “Jelly Crunchers.”
The neatly summarized lesson? “[T]hey have learned that there is no one way to do something, and that combining the things that make them different makes them all better.” The book’s conclusion offers three thought-provoking questions for young readers about preconceptions.
The book is written in a casual narrative style suited to children but can be wordy in its attempts to be cute. For example: “Every day for breakfast and every day at lunch and every day at dinner the people of this town come to this very large town square to meet and eat.” This technique adds flavor to the text, but as sentences expand, some might find it tedious. Similarly, the author’s practice of beginning sentences with “And” becomes increasingly distracting. There are also a few other minor missteps (e.g., “us Crunchers” versus “we Crunchers”).
The art is colorful and distinctive, with an appealing, layered-like look, as if constructed by collage. Since most of the story takes place in the park, there’s some sameness to many pages, with lampposts, picnic tables, and benches featured prominently.
Regardless, The Jellies and the Crunchers offers an entertaining, kid-friendly introduction to the concepts of diversity and acceptance, admirably delivered in a non-preachy fashion.
Also available as an ebook.