7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #732: Featuring Giselle Potter

h1 February 28th, 2021 by jules

“Because once people have eaten apples and bananas, purple potatoes and
yellow tomatoes, kiwifruit and sugar snap peas and spaghetti squash …
who knows
what they’ll try next?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


The next time you eat passion fruit, a donut peach, or purple asparagus, you can give a note of thanks to produce pioneer Frieda Caplan, the subject of a new picture book biography from Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Giselle Potter and arriving on shelves last month (Beach Lane Books), Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat is informative, eye-opening, and will have you reaching for the nearest fruits.

The book opens with Frieda hard at work at the Seventh Street produce market in Los Angeles. She sees potatoes, tomatoes, and apples “as far as the eye could see.” Why not, Frieda wondered, give something new a try? When she offers mushrooms to customers, the men at the market tell her: “Nobody eats those.” But Frieda didn’t give up. She kept selling them, people started eating them, and she became known as the Mushroom Queen.

Soon after getting her own spot at the produce market, she kept selling mushrooms — but also Chinese gooseberries, jicama, blood oranges, sugar snap peas, Asian pears, dragon fruit, purple potatoes, and more. She knew it was a food people would want to try if she got a “funny feeling in her elbows when she tasted something new and special.” She even developed her own recipes for the produce. Farmers and cooks consulted her, and reporters asked her about “the next big thing.” Eventually, her daughters joined her in the business. A closing author’s note fleshes out even more detail about Frieda and her family:

When Frieda started selling produce, the average supermarket carried about sixty-five kinds of fruits and vegetables. Now shoppers can find seven to eight-hundred, many of them introduced by Frieda’s. But Frieda Caplan did much more than sell Americans on tomatillos and alfalfa sprouts, or even mangosteen and quince. She taught us that tasting unfamiliar foods could be a fun adventure — and delicious, too.

(My favorite fact from the closing note is that, when Frieda was named “Produce Man of the Year” in 1979, she gave the award back. Not longer after that, it was renamed “Produce Marketer of the Year.”)

Mara Rockliff’s text captures Caplan’s resilience and determination. Giselle Potter’s palette is dominated by a punchy purple hue — Frieda is always depicted in purple — juxtaposed with vivid greens, blues, and reds in various shades. The spreads featuring produce markets, filled with eye-catching details (and all kinds of produce), are carefully composed and never too busy. Below are some spreads so that you can see for yourself.


“Now, there was nothing wrong with a potato.
Still, Frieda thought, why not give something new a try?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Especially if it was crispy … crunchy … juicy …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“It took a while for everybody to get used to Frieda’s funny-looking fruits. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“But if Frieda felt it in her elbows, she knew it was going to catch on … eventually.”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



TRY IT! HOW FRIEDA CAPLAN CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT. Text copyright © 2021 by Mara Rockliff. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Giselle Potter and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Beach Lane Books, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Walks.

2) David Levithan’s The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S. (As Told To His Brother). Soooo good.



3) Nomadland and this piece on Frances McDormand.

4) Actresses like her, who don’t have the lines on their faces erased.

5) This piece on wordless picture books.

6) My vinyl copy of one of my favorite albums arrived — The Innocence Mission’s Birds of My Neighborhood. It was originally released in 1999 but was just released on vinyl for us nerdy fans. This is one of the albums I listened to over and over and over again right after my brother’s death. It means a lot to me, as does all of this band’s music. (Oh, it’s also where I found my oldest daughter’s name.)

7) It has one of the world’s most perfect folk songs on it.



What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #732: Featuring Giselle Potter”

  1. What a great book offering this morning. I love books that highlight people such as Frieda Kaplan. Who know she’s the reason for finding these foods in the market. I can see it used in a classroom.
    Jules, walks, yay. I am anxious to see Nomadland. Love McDormand.
    My kicks:
    1. First Covid shot done.
    2. Lengthening days.
    3. Signs of spring.
    4. Poetry friends.
    5. Time with oldest grand girl.
    6. Read CALVIN by Martine Leavitt. Aslo reading SHUGGIE BAIN by Douglas Stuart.
    7. Book club Aoom tonight: HARRY’S TREES by Jon Cohen
    Have a great week.

  2. What a wonderful book! Love the story and the bright colorful, happy illustrations. Its putting me in mind of spring and summer and the abundant colors of fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers markets.

    Jules – hooray for walks and getting your favorite album on vinyl. Looking forward to seeing Nomadland. Did a Fargo rewatch a few months back and it is still such a perfect movie, in large part due to McDormand.

    Jone – WooHoo for that 1st Covid shot! Aren’t the longer days so nice? Especially when we get a break from the rain so we can enjoy a gorgeous sunset. I am eager for spring.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Finished the series Halt and Catch Fire. Loved the relationship journeys in it, especially the friendships. Pretty perfect ending.
    2) A rare in-person court hearing. It went well.
    3) Sunshine.
    4) Texting with faraway friends.
    5) Lazy Sunday mornings with Daisy.
    6) Surprise package of coffee from Hawaii arrived this week.
    7) Getting instructions on how to make a giant pancake. I have to order the rice cooker first, but once it arrives, the first thing to be made will be the giant fluffy pancake.
    7.5) Daily walks with sweet Daisy.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Hi Imps! Hope you’re having a good Sunday.

    Hi Giselle! Thank you for sharing your work. Love the colors.

    Jules: I plan to watch that film this afternoon!

    Jone: Yay, especially to your first kick! Be well.

    Rachel: Enjoy the sunshine and the pup time! How big is a giant pancake?

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Selection
    2) Settings
    3) Satisfied
    4) Satisfactory
    5) Seen
    6) Safety
    7) Singing

  4. Jone, did you enjoy Shuggie Bain? I finished that in December, I think it was. Congrats on part-one of the vaccine!

    Rachel: I’ve been wanting to re-watch Fargo too. Hello to Dasiy. And I share Little Willow’s question: How big are we talkin’ with this pancake? Inquiring minds wanna know.

    Little Willow: More alliterative kicks! Hope you enjoy the film!

    have a good week, you all!

  5. Little Willow – love your kicks, Satisfied and Seen are sounding especially good this week. And thanks, Daisy and I loved our time outside today.

    Also, a giant pancake is BIG! Here is a tutorial that shows the size of the pancake in the beginning and then her success trying to copy it. A friend had done this in their IG stories (but its gone now) and it looked amazing. They said it was super easy:

  6. That certainly looks like a cake!!

  7. Jules, Not quite done with Shuggie but I am very caught up in it. Filling my need to be in Scotland albeit how sad it is. The writing is amazing.
    Rachel, a giant fluffy pancake? I am in.
    LW: Love that all kicks start with S!

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