"He found new and exciting ways to eat darkness. He liked darkness spread on burned toast. He liked darkness sandwiches." - The Monster Who Ate Darkness, Joyce Dunbar
A few months ago my four year old found Joyce Dunbar's (with illustrations by Jimmy Liao) The Monster Who Ate Darkness at our local library. He liked the book so much that after we returned it he continued to ask to check it out again. We ended up buying him his own copy for Christmas. It is a sweet, charming story about a boy who is afraid of the dark and the gentle monster who eats the darkness--until there is no darkness left in the entire universe! The consequences--for the monster and the rest of the world--are explored in the second half of the story that ends with a sweet solution for everyone.
Rereading it this weekend I was struck by the page in the book in which the monster makes "darkness" sandwiches. I can do that, I thought. It's perfect timing because my four year old is currently in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich phase. If I try to feed him a sandwich with luncheon meat he'll just pick the meat off and eat the bread, cheese and tomatoes. In one of those if you can't beat 'em, join 'em parenting decisions I've just decided to go with it for now and let him have peanut butter and jelly every day.
The ingredients: Smucker's Simply Fruit Blackberry spread (any dark fruit spread or jelly will do, I like this because it's sweetened with fruit juice and real fruit instead of HFCS), peanut butter, bread. Technically the monster in the book does not add peanut butter to his darkness sandwiches but I like it for the added protein. Otherwise it's more like dessert (not that my kids would mind, I'm sure).
We spread the "darkness" on one side of the bread...
...and then the other. We followed this up with a middle layer of peanut butter.
I served the sandwich with Darkness Bites (aka raisins).
This is obviously a very simple lunch and even toddlers can assist with its preparation. We have always tried to involve our kids in our cooking and as my older son has become more independent and able to make his own lunches, the four year old has followed his lead. He was especially excited to make and eat the darkness sandwiches, just like the monster in the book. For today, anyway, it made plain old PB&J seem new and exciting again.
For another book about a sweet (not scary) monster, try the now-classic The Monster at the End of this Book (Big Little Golden Book).
And for another book where jelly sandwiches are even more prominently featured, there is always Bread and Jam for Frances (I Can Read Book 2).