Mar 192013
 March 19, 2013  bilingualism, Book Reviews, Education, food

Runaway Radish: Book Review and Experiment - Alldonemonkey.comThis post was written as part of the Gingerbread Stories from Around the World collection on Kid World Citizen.

As you all know, I love bilingual books, especially ones that are as fun to read as Runaway Radish/El Rabano Que Escapo by Janice Levy.  During a trip to Mexico, Levy learned about the Night of the Radishes, an annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico, featuring elaborate sculptures made from radishes.  Fascinated, Levy created this story about Don Pedro, whose dreams of winning first place at the festival are threatened by a rebellious radish.

The radish jumps off Don Pedro’s table and runs out the door, determined to avoid being carved into one of Don Pedro’s sculptures.  As they run through the town — crashing through the mercado (“market”), bumping into mariachis, and knocking a chef into a pot of mole sauce — the line of people (and animals!) chasing the radish grows.  Will Don Pedro catch the radish?  Will he win first prize in the contest??  I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will hint that he shares his prize money with all the new friends he made while chasing the radish!

Monkey and I loved this book right from the start.  The text has a great rhythm that bounces you right along the cobblestone streets of this small town, and Monkey had fun singing along to the repeated refrain of the radish as she runs away from her pursuers.  The drawings are fun and fit the quirky text beautifully.

Those of you familiar with the Gingerbread Man story will see the obvious parallels here: a favorite food that jumps off the table and runs right out the door.  It turns out that stories like this appear around the world!  Becky of Kid World Citizen has organized a series of book reviews based on this theme, and we are so happy to be participating!  You can also read our post for her Cinderella Around the World series last fall.

The obvious activity to do with this book would be carving radishes; however, I am not about to do an activity involving knives with my three year old!  Instead, I decided to focus on an aspect of the story that piqued my curiosity.  Don Pedro is always careful to spray his radishes with water so they will stay fresh.  Indeed, one of his main concerns with the runaway radish is that it will dry itself out and become so brittle it will break.

I am not very familiar with radishes, so I didn’t realize how great they are for carving.  For example, I only know the tiny radishes served as an accompaniment at Mexican restaurants.  I had no idea that when left in the ground they can grow to giant proportions.  Here is a photo of my dear friend Daria (of Making Multicultural Music) with an enormous radish that she grew!  As you can see, she is also a big fan of this book!

runaway Radish  and me!

I wondered how much radishes would really be affected by the lack of water.  Monkey recently watched a video involving a science experiment, so I decided it was a good time to try one of our own.  We got some radishes (Monkey did try a bite of one, which he declared “spicy”), and we divided them into three piles.  The first we left alone, the second we occasionally rinsed with water, and the third we put in a small bowl of water.

Runaway Radish: Book Review and Experiment -

We ran the experiment for roughly 24 hours, until we could really see a difference among the three groups of radishes.  It was so fun to see how excited Monkey got about the experiment.  He was very diligent about rinsing the second group of radishes in water and examining them to see how they were different from the others.  (I love that he is into posing for pictures now!)

Runaway Radish: Book Review and Experiment -

In the end, we really could see what effect the water had on the radishes:  The radishes in the first group (no water) were quite dry and bumpy, those in the second group (periodic rinsing in water) were less so, and those in the third group (submerged in water) were still very smooth.

Runaway Radish: Book Review and Experiment -

Do you have a favorite experiment for budding young scientists?  What foods have been running away from you lately?

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This post has been shared at Fun A Day’s Stress-Free Sunday Link-Up and Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  15 Responses to “Runaway Radish: Book Review and Experiment”

  1. This sounds like such a fun book and I love the science experiment! What a great way to extend the story. I love Oaxaca and this is the first time I’ve heard of this books so I’ll have to try to add it to our library.

    • You should definitely check it out! It seems to capture some of the feel of Oaxaca through the illustrations and details of the story. And we had a lot of fun with the experiment. It was simple enough that it was right at his level.

  2. Oh Leanna- what a great idea!!! I love when science presents itself to our kids and they can try to figure out how something works! I bet he’s caught the science bug now and will be inventing his own experiments:). Thank you so much for the review, I am embarrassed to say that I have never read this book (and I always try to get bilingual folktales from the library!:). I will have to check it out!!!

    • Thanks, Becky! I had never thought to do a science experiment at this age (3), but he loved it! We will definitely be doing more. And I definitely recommend this book! It’s a lot of fun.

  3. Oh, I love the science experiment linked to that book. 🙂 If you get the chance, I would love it if you could stop by my Stress-Free Link Up. This would be a great post to share!

  4. Leanna: One fun experiment we did with the kids when they were very young was guessing if items would sink or float, and then inviting them to try in a big tub or baby pool. Another fun experiment is to put a big bucket of water at one end of the driveway, and an empty bucket at the other end. Give him tons of spoons (one with slots, one soup ladle, one teaspoon), a straw, a sponge, a piece of foil, a cup, a colander, etc and have him test which is the best tool to transfer the water from one bucket to the next. It works beautiful on a hot day with friends:).

  5. What a quirky book and a gret experiment. Thanks for linking it in to the Kidlitbloghop. Cheers Julie Grasso

  6. Oh, how fun! This book reminds me of the Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg! I’m trying to think of foods I would runaway from at the moment. Hmmm… interestingly, I’m not a big fan of radishes! I agree with Monkey – too “spicy”! lol

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Please check out our upcoming Kid Lit Giveaway Hop – sign-ups are now OPEN! Also, keep in mind that I may be able to find an author to donate a book if you are willing to host a giveaway. Just let me know! Hugs, Renee

    • Thanks, Renee! I had been meaning to sign up – just did! I may have an author to team up with, but otherwise I will definitely let you know!!

  7. […] Runaway Radish Book Activity & Experiment (All Done Monkey) […]

  8. I had no idea that radishes were used so prevalently in Mexican cooking. What a fun book and activity. I’ve only seen radish roses. Thanks so much for linking up to Multicultural Book Day (Jan 27th)!

  9. […] Juice Science Experiment  Ramp Science for Kids From other moms: ~ Radish Experiment by All Done […]

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