So what accounts for the cupcake-creep?
“I don’t think parents really look at every book, page by page. They buy online or grandparents buy or they get books as gifts,” Scott said. “Mostly, parents put their trust in the bookstores and the publishers.”
Picture book illustrator Betsy Thompson in Portland, Maine, was thrilled to take on cauliflower and figs in an alphabet book depicting healthy foods by their colors. Her mixed-media collage work with text by Libby Koponen is featured in “Mmm ... Let’s Eat!” from Blue Apple Books and just out in May.
The book isn’t entirely about food and includes other items by color like a yellow rain boot and a sunflower. The same goes for “Sesame Street’s” 2011 “Abby’s Pink Party,” telling the story of a birthday bash with a final spread featuring cake and other treats that include watermelons and strawberries.
As a mom of two girls, ages 10 and nearly 13, Thompson worries about the motives behind unhealthy food choices in books for kids.
“I don’t think you need to beat kids over the head with things because I think kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for, but a lot of people in the business are looking just at what will sell, and I’m totally horrified by it,” she said. “That’s not how I’ve ever fed my kids.”