How do you get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables? Certainly not by reciting earnest arguments that extol their salubrious benefits. Try heaping on a dollop of escapist entertainment, and you stand a much better chance of convincing kids that getting their daily vitamin dosage is important. That’s the tack Yorkton Heights, New York-based publisher HCOM has taken in creating its Snak Posse book series.
In The Race Against Junkfood (US$9.99), targeted to kids younger than eight, a group of super-hero fruits and vegetables, with names like Banana Bolt and Flash Carotene, wage battle against junk food villains, the Sugar Coat Gang, while trying to save a young boy from his father, who has submitted to the evils of fried meat and potato by-products.
Snak Posse, the other title in the series, skews to kids eight and up, and uses the comic book form to explore similar themes.
HCOM publisher Robert Orchanian, a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch by day, and his wife, a fitness instructor and vegetarian, developed the concept for the Snak (stands for super nutritionally active kids) Posse a few years ago as a counterpoint to what they saw as the deluge of pro-junk food messages that children were being exposed to through popular culture.
Owning a small publishing company (The Race Against Junk Food and Snak Posse represent the only two books HCOM has published), however, has meant the Orchanians have not had the funds needed to advertise the titles. Fortunately for them, the books’ subject matter has attracted a number of promotional endorsements from vegan and animal rights groups, as well as the occasional mention in the mainstream press.
Right now, the Orchanians are working on their next project, a Snak Posse book for preschoolers tentatively scheduled for release in 1999.
Both The Race Against Junkfood and Snak Posse are available at most major bookstores, on-line through www.amazon.com and via mail order from HCOM.