Melonhead and the Vegalicious Disaster

By Katy Kelly. Ages 8 to 12. $14.99. 214 pages.

This is the fourth book in the Melonhead series, which focuses on Adam Melon (you can see how he got his nickname), his family and his friends. The Melons live in the Capitol Hill section of Washington. Author Katy Kelly grew up on Capitol Hill and still lives in Washington, so part of the fun of reading these books is that Melonhead visits places you’ve probably been to, including the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums.

As this book opens, Adam is getting ready for the first day of fifth grade. Things seem as though they might be rough because his teacher has a nickname far worse than Melonhead’s: Bad Ms. Mad, who gives homework on the very first day.

But as bad as things might be at school, they are even worse at home. That’s because Adam’s mom has decided that the family should start eating better. By “eating better,” Mom means eating more vegetables: three servings a day. At first this doesn’t seem so bad to Adam as he sits down to dinner and sees what he thinks are mashed potatoes covered in cheese sauce.

After he takes a bite, he tells her that “a spoiled, putrid potato got in with the good ones. Sorry, Mom.” But it turns out that Mom didn’t make mashed potatoes in cheese sauce; instead, it’s cauliflower in cheese sauce. The best thing that Adam can find to say about cauliflower is “disgusting.”

While Mom is determined that the family will have a better diet, Adam is determined not to eat any more disgusting vegetables. So he comes up with a brilliant plan that convinces his mother that he’s eating — and loving — all his vegetables. The plan works, until a very strange smell starts coming from the heating vents.

This book is a funny tale about family and friends and school — and, of course, vegetables.

— Tracy Grant