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Lettuce Get In Trouble
Author: Linda Kuo
Illustrator: Mariana Rio
Co-Authors: Cynthia Benjamin & Paula Rees
Published May 17th, 2022 by Center for Design Books

Summary: Sara Little Turnbull was a designer, an observer, a mentor, and not afraid to cause a little trouble while making the world a better place. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects they hold dear.

As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products–from facemasks to cookware to astronaut suits–and to encourage others to see the world through new eyes. Sara was a mentor to designers of all ages and in Lettuce Get in Trouble, she helps children understand the basics of design: observing the world around them, asking questions, and trying out new things. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, however, Sara Little brings her young friends to her Little Lab to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together they design a grand event, inviting children to gather, play, and design tasty new creations.

Sara Little Trouble Maker Series Information: New Children’s Picture Book Series Introduces Young Readers to the Basics of Design by asking “Why?”

Lettuce Get in Trouble is the first volume in the Sara Little Trouble Maker series from Center for Design Books—a children’s picture book that teaches the basics of design in a way that is easy for young readers to understand. Inspired by a little-known but influential designer, Sara Little, Lettuce Get in Trouble helps children learn to problem-solve by observing the world around them, asking great questions, and trying out new things.

“Sara wears many hats and one tiny upside-down clock on her black turtleneck. She is always asking a lot of questions.”

Why?

In Lettuce Get in Trouble, we meet Sara Little, a troublemaker of the best sort; she asks great questions starting with Why? Sara looks at the world a little differently than other adults—by doing so, interesting problems and the need for design solutions come her way. This first story focuses on Sara’s design influence with new foods and is set in her beloved city of New York. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, Sara brings her young friends to her Little Lab to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together, they plan a grand event, inviting children from around the world to design fresh, tasty creations. “The children will cook, and we shall allow them to play with their food!” says Sara. Will the leader of the Ministry of Food be happy? Will the children learn to love veggies?

“Good design solves problems and also makes the world more beautiful and fun.”

Through experimentation, discovery, and planning, Sara teaches children that “good design solves problems and also makes the world more beautiful and fun.” In Lettuce Get in Trouble, the children—and designers of all ages—learn to make their world a better place by being curious, ‘taking the time to see’ and not being afraid to cause a little trouble.

“When you take the time to see, the wonders become commonplace, and the commonplace become wonders.”

About the Real Little Sara: Sara Little (1917-2015) was a designer, teacher, and observer not afraid to cause a little trouble while developing innovative solutions to fulfill our basic needs. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects, tools, and rituals their cultures hold dear. As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products—from medical masks which inspired the N95 to cookware to astronaut’s spacesuits—and encouraged others to see the world through new eyes. This first story reflects Sara’s influence on the American lifestyle by promoting casual dining with buffets and finger foods.

About the Creators: 

Linda Kuo designs products for children and loves creative storytelling. She has a BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York and an MFA from Stanford University, where Sara Little mentored her. Sara often said, “Design is to create order.” Linda practices Sara’s teaching in all her projects as the Design Director at Pottery Barn Kids & Teen, headquartered in San Francisco, and serves as a board member of the Center for Design.

Mariana Rio is an award-winning illustrator and educator in Porto, Portugal. She graduated in Communication Design from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. With over a decade of experience, she is happy to spend her days creating characters and visual narratives for publishing houses and institutions worldwide. Her illustrations have been featured in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair exhibitions. Mariana is always eager to learn, and she found Sara Little’s legacy a huge inspiration. Find more at: www.marianario.com

The Sara Little [Turnbull] Center for Design Institute is a non-profit (501c3) in Seattle, WA, with a mission to educate and enhance the public’s knowledge of design and further the education of under served women and girls. Profit from the book series will support that work.

Review: Lettuce Get in Trouble is such a great inquiry book! It shows the importance of asking questions, asking more questions, pushing boundaries, and never letting someone judge you by their assumptions.

I found the collage-esque and colorful illustrations mixed with the multi-format of the picture book just so much fun to read and as unique as its subject. It also has such a quick pace that could have been detrimental but instead kept the reader wanting to move forward to see what Sara is going to tackle next.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think the first thing I would do with this book is start with the WHY and have students come up with their own questions then find answers. Use Sara Little’s inquiry to inspire their own inquiry. There are also other mentor opportunities such as answering Sara’s questions and having students write a letter that they would have written to Sara.

Also, there is so much to learn about Sara Little Turnbull. She changed our world yet is too unknown. Students can use this book/series as a jumping off point to learning about her career and inventions. After reading the book, students could be grouped and each group assigned one of her designs/inventions to research and share.

Learn more about Sara Little at The Center for Design, the Sara Little Troublemaker website, or this Fortune article about her for Women’s History Month.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What did Sara do differently than others at the Ministry of Food?
  • What traits does Sara have that made her such a great designer and thinker?
  • What did Sara’s mom do to help her become the inquisitive thinker she was?
  • What questions do you have like Sara?
  • How did Sara think about food differently than others?
  • Why did the Center for Design decide to start a series inspired by Sara Little?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nontraditional picture book biographies

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**Thank you to Claire McKinney PR for providing a copy for review!**

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One Response to Lettuce Get in Trouble by Linda Kuo, Illustrated by Mariana Rio

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