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Good Enough to Eat    by Brock Cole order for
Good Enough to Eat
by Brock Cole
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Combining fairytale and folktale elements, this book tells the story of an unwanted homeless girl who is shunned by villagers, only to outsmart them at the end. A nameless, poverty-stricken girl lives in a village and makes her living by selling scraps. She begs for food when necessary, but people rarely help her. When an ogre comes knocking at the village gate, demanding a bride, the townspeople are only too eager to offer her up for sacrifice. 

Suddenly, the girl is the center of attention: she is dressed up in bridal gowns and is given a dowry. The ogre is displeased with both the dowry and the girl, bellowing, 'Not good enough!' He demands more, and thus, the pattern is repeated several times, with the villagers coming up with more and more riches to give to the ogre, and hence, be rid of the girl. When the ogre swallows both the girl and the dowry, she cuts her way out of the ogre's belly with a sword that was part of her dowry.

The girl is viewed in a different light now, and is invited back to the village. She asks what she will be given if she returns ... '"Why, a barrel to live in and a new pair of shoes," said the mayor. A barrel to live in a new pair of shoes? "NOT GOOD ENOUGH!" cried the girl.' After years of being called Scraps-and-Smells, Skin-and-Bones, and Sweets-and-Treats, she takes wicked pleasure in being able to rename herself Good-Enough-to-Eat.

This moralistic tale teaches us to respect and be charitable to those less fortunate, and it shows how fortunes can change overnight. Cole's busy sketches are gory at times, as is the text, though the drawings are generally spirited and whimsical.

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