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One Potato, Two Potato    by Cynthia DeFelice & Andrea U'ren order for
One Potato, Two Potato
by Cynthia DeFelice
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady are a poverty-stricken, elderly couple. Their only companions are each other. They live simply in a room with one chair, one table, one bed, one blanket, and one raggedy coat that they share. The O’Grady's also share one potato per day: 'Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady were so poor they dug one potato from their little garden every day, called it breakfast, lunch, and supper, and considered themselves lucky to have it.'

Even though the couple love each other dearly, more than anything they each wish for a friend.

One day, while Mr. O'Grady is digging in the garden, he uncovers a giant pot, which he carries up the hill into the house. The couple eventually discovers the pot's magic powers: whatever goes inside the pot automatically doubles. Thus, one potato tossed into the pot yields two potatoes. Soon the O'Gradys begin multiplying their possessions, including their single gold coin.

When Mrs. O'Grady trips into the pot, her husband pulls out - you guessed it - two Mrs. O'Gradys. When he bemoans the presence of an extra wife, since one wife is all he ever wanted, he throws himself into the pot, to create not only a husband for the second Mrs. O'Grady, but a friend for himself as well.

I loved the ending, where the couples decide to bury the pot for someone else to find, since, with the new friendships, they have everything they could ever want. 'And from that day forward, all of the O'Gradys lived happily together. They were, they liked to say, simply beside themselves with joy.' (NOTE: beside themselves is in italics).

It is unusual to see elderly people as main characters in a picture book, but the intended message will certainly be understood by young children. This sweet book tugs at the heartstrings while it celebrates friendship. I also liked the anti-materialism message. The sparse drawings are a perfect accompaniment to the text.

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