You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Kid Spotlight’ category.

Photo Credit: Martha Payne

Thanks to new fan and friend John Evans, I just learned about NeverSeconds, a blog written by a nine-year-old Scottish schoolgirl named Martha Payne (a.k.a. “VEG”) who was tired of her awful school dinners. So Martha decided to photograph her meals, rate them (she counts the number of hairs included at no extra cost), and share them with the world.

A clever kid! But this story gets even better.

Once VEG’s school council got word of the blog, they banned her from taking photographs of her meals. But Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who has been campaigning for healthier school meals worldwide, launched a social media support crusade via Twitter. After millions of blog hits and public outcry, Roddy McCuish, the leader of the Argyll and Bute Council in West Scotland, lifted the blog ban. McCuish claimed preventing the photos from being posted was a form of censorship. So VEG is online once again.

Not only is she still posting her meals, she’s receiving photos from children and educators around the world. Plus, Martha is raising money for Mary’s Meals, headquartered in Scotland and right here in New Jersey! This non-profit organization’s mission is to feed children in the most impoverished nations.

I have a passion for healthy eating, so I just had to blog about this young girl’s chutzpah! I hope you’ll support her over at NeverSeconds and maybe submit your own school lunch! If she posts your picture, VEG will even tell you how long she took to find your location on the globe. It’s a good food and geography lesson all at once!

So…just for fun…I wrote a song parody for Martha/VEG. Sung to the tune of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”, this is “School Gives LUNCH a Bad Name”. Enjoy and mangia!

School Gives Lunch a Bad Name

Your meal’s a la carte
But it’s still lame.
School gives lunch a bad name. (Bad name.)

A “balanced” meal is what they sell
They promise you chicken but give you dry spelt.
A plain white tray with no mashies,
And globs of brown stuff that stink like bad cheese.

Oh, it’s a load of yuck!
Oh, they told you don’t blog
But Jamie told Twitter,
“You’re righteous, photog!”

Your meal’s a la carte
But it’s still lame.
School gives lunch a bad name. (Bad name.)
We read your grade; it’s a four you claim.
School gives lunch a bad name. (Bad name.)
School gives lunch, oh!

Bring the fork to your lips,
Pull out hair with your fingertips.
Your school cooks bad, we don’t know why.
It’s not too hard to make fresh veggie stir-fry.

Oh, it’s a load of yuck!
Oh, they told you don’t blog
But Jamie told Twitter,
“You’re righteous, photog!”

Your meal’s a la carte
But it’s still lame.
School gives lunch a bad name. (Bad name.)
We read your grade; it’s a four you claim.
School gives lunch a bad name. (Bad name.)
School gives lunch, oh!

“Oh, reading…what they did before fun was invented,” says Candace Flynn (on Disney’s Phineas & Ferb). Candace’s grandmother persuades her to read Sherlock Holmes but Candace scoffs. But the next morning, Grandma finds Candace bleary-eyed and hunched over the book. Candace hasn’t stayed up reading it–she’s stayed up reading the ENTIRE COLLECTION! “Before fun was invented, indeed,” snarks Grandma.

Plenty of kids know that reading is fun. And blogging, too! Like Erik the Great. (Great name, huh?) This nine-year-old bibliophile began a book blog to share his favorite titles with other kids. Erik the-story-loving-3rd-grader piqued my interest, so I invited him to talk about children’s lit and blogging.

Why did you want to start a blog?
I wanted to because I LOVE books. I read all the time (I even get into trouble in school sometimes for reading so much). My grandmother told me about a time when she was in a book store shopping for a book for me. She said she didn’t know what to buy for me and a kid in the store recommended that she get “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” by Tom Angleberger for me. He told her he was sure I would like it (and I did). So I thought that if she would take book advice from a kid, maybe other people would too. At first I wanted to write reviews for newspapers but my Dad suggested a website. I thought a blog was a good idea because I could talk to people all over the world about books and then people could also tell me what they think about the books I write about and suggest books for me to read.

How did you get started?
When I had the idea to make a blog, my Mom and I went on the computer to find the best place to make a blog and we liked WordPress. I looked at other book review blogs and websites to kind of get an idea of what I’d like my blog to look like. Then I just started writing. I started writing about some of my favorite books and then readers started suggesting books and then I started watching for new releases. My school let me pass out flyers about my site and I left flyers at books stores and libraries and that helped me get more readers. Then I started to read other book blogs (like yours) and commenting on the posts they have and the other bloggers started to visit my site. I really like to see what other people are reading and what they think about it.

What did you hope to accomplish with the blog?
I wanted to not just review books, but I also wanted to talk with other kids and adults about books. I just wanted to find people who love reading as much as I do. Then I started asking authors and illustrators if I could interview them about writing books and making pictures for books. It’s really interesting to talk to the people actually creating books.

Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to be involved with books, or something totally different?
I really want to be an inventor when I grow up. I already have some ideas for inventions like a refrigerator that you don’t ever need to open the door so that you save energy (and it’s voice commanded, too). I think being an inventor, I will have to read (and write) a lot. My Mom is a scientist and she writes a lot of books and articles and is reading all the time. Right now I am actually writing my first book called “The Adventures of Tomato and Pea”. It’s about aliens getting stranded on Earth and trying to get back to their home planet (planet -Oarg).

Sounds like a fun story, Erik! Thanks for talking to me about blogging. And thanks for blogging about books!

You can find Erik at, most recently reviewing MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, to which he gives 4 out of 5 bookworms.

And check out the monster Erik wishes he could buy at The Monstore!

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email address to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 12,936 other followers

My Picture Books


illus by Mike Boldt
July 2021

illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown

Blog Topics


Twitter Updates