cover image Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat

Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat

Mara Rockliff, illus. by Giselle Potter. Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6007-2

Faced with a sea of predictable produce at L.A.’s Seventh Street market—“apples and bananas and potatoes and tomatoes”—Frieda Caplan wanted to try selling mushrooms. “Nobody eats those,” the existing salespeople—all men—said, but Caplan trusted her intuition, starting her own produce company in 1962 and getting “a funny feeling in her elbows when she tasted something new and special, something she was sure people would like to try.” Caplan made a significant mark, becoming a successful business owner in a field that did not welcome women. The mushrooms sold (“People started calling her the Mushroom Queen”), and so did the black radishes, blood oranges, jicama, kiwifruit, sugar snap peas, and more that Caplan championed as she led a quiet revolution in U.S. eating habits. In this picture book biography of an early food innovator, Rockliff (Jefferson Measures a Moose) takes note of the ways Caplan distinguished her offerings: clear labeling, customer education, and more. Potter (Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks) brings out the vivid colors of tropical fruits, and her market scenes give the spreads a sense of abundance. There’s period detail, too, as produce is introduced through the decades, enjoyed by people sporting fedoras and, eventually, bell-bottoms. Ages 3–8. [em]Agent (for Rockliff and Potter): Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Jan.) [/em]