Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices by William Gurstelle. You can read here about how Engineer Husband and Karate Kid planned to build a potato cannon. I will finish the story by reporting that the potato cannon was a huge success, the potatoes hit the fence with a satisfying thud, and no animals were injured or mistreated in the production or execution of this project.
In Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, Willy must harvest the potato crop by himself when Grandpa becomes ill. Here’s a teaching activity to accompany the reading of this book. (The book continues as Willy enters a dog sled race to raise money to pay the taxes and to save Grandpa’s farm.)
More Potatoes! by Millicent Selsam is an older, out of print, beginning reader about how potatoes get from the field to the table. It’s told as a story, and it’s a good introduction to food production in general for younger children.
Potatoes, Potatoes by Anita Lobel. Potatoes, love and war all in a picture book.
Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes by Rosalind Creasy. This picture book actually tells how to grow blue potatoes —and other vegetables in rainbow colors.
The Amazing Potato: A Story in Which the Incas, Conquistadors, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Jefferson, Wars, Famines, Immigrants, and French Fries All Play a Part by Milton Meltzer. Also out of print, but worth tracking down in the library or used bookstore, this book tells the history of the potato for upper elementary age children. I like the long title, don’t you?
Hot potato (quotations):
“What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” —A. A. Milne
“Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.” —Louisa May Alcott
“Let the sky rain potatoes.” —Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips.” —Charles Dickens
Pierre had not eaten all day and the smell of the potatoes seemed extremely pleasant to him. He thanked the soldier and began to eat.
“Well, are they all right?” said the soldier with a smile. “You should do like this.”
He took a potato, drew out his clasp knife, cut the potato into two equal halves on the palm of his hand, sprinkled some salt on it from the rag, and handed it to Pierre.
“The potatoes are grand!” he said once more. “Eat some like that!”
Pierre thought he had never eaten anything that tasted better. —Tolstoy War and Peace
“Po-ta-toes,” said Sam. “The Gaffer’s delight, and a rare good ballast for an empty belly.” —JRR Tolkien
Couch potato (links)
History of the Potato
Mashed potatoes (news)
“The United Nations (UN) has declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, in Resolution 4/2005 of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, adopted on 25 November 2005.”