Book Clubs and Chicken McNuggets

“Miss Pope?”

“Yes, Samantha?”

“Why do people eat people?”

I blink at the seven-year old in my small reading group for a moment, trying to process what she’s asking. After a moment I get it. “People don’t eat people, Sam.” Not sane ones anyway. “Peter Rabbit’s father was a rabbit. Mr. McGregor’s wife cooked a rabbit not a person.”

“Oh!” She says, then blinks at me and tilts her head to the side. I know Samantha very well and know that  her head tilt is leading up to a follow-up thought. I immediately question my choice for book of the week, wondering what on earth her innocent little mind is cooking up. “People actually eat rabbits?”  That’s disgusting!”

Now the teacher in me knows that if I give her more than a one word answer my whole lesson is going to hell but I can’t help myself. “Yes, many people eat rabbits and deer. Some cultures love to eat goat. Even I have had bear meat once.” My entire reading group looks at me aghast, as if I’m some kind of monster that might eat them if they displease me. And I’m okay with this. “The reason you don’t see that kind of meat in the supermarket is because most Americans don’t like to eat animals that they think are cute. That’s why we don’t eat cats, or dogs, or ponies.”

“But what about Chicken McNuggets?” Samantha asks.

“What about them, honey?”

“Chicken McNuggets come from baby chicks. Andthey’re cute.”

Oh Samantha. I can’t help myself. I burst out laughing and not the haha giggles but the undignified snorting, loud cackling laugh that makes everyone else in the room turn to look at me. When I compose myself enough to speak I say, “Samantha, sweetheart. Chicken McNuggets don’t come from baby chicks.”

“Yes they do,” she says adamantly, then takes her finger and makes the shape of a nugget. “See? The nugget comes right from the middle of the chick.”

The other two kids in my group all nod their heads in agreement and look at me as if I’m the dumb one who has no idea how nuggets are made. I think about telling them the truth but all I could see in my mind is the chicken nugget factory where the fluffy yellow baby chicks go in on a conveyor belt and come out as a fried fast food snack. “How do they get the nugget out of the chicken?”

Samantha shrugs. “A cookie cutter.”

“Ah,” I say. Should I have told them where nuggets really come from? Maybe. But they are seven and still very sweet and the image of a chicken nugget factory is almost sweet in a sick twisted kind of way.

In school we are really big on getting kids to have good conversations about what they are reading.Did we have a good conversation? Absolutely. Was it about a book? Not really.

This week I have a few questions for you. Have you ever been part of a book club?  And do you really just talk about the book or do other topics arise?

Did you ever have a weird misconception when you were a kid, like Samantha? I used to think Spaghetti grew on trees in Italy. ( I used to imagine fields of beautiful spaghetti trees basking in the Tuscan sun.) I also used to think you caught chicken pox from eating chicken and that a monster would come out and eat all children that were awake past ten o’clock. (Thank you, mom, for that one!) So let me hear all your embarrassing, sweet, silly childlike thoughts. Or any thoughts you have at all. All are welcome.



14 thoughts on “Book Clubs and Chicken McNuggets”

  1. This is extremely embarrassing, but according to my mom, I used to think that when I turned 5, I would magically transform from a girl into a boy. I have no idea why I thought this, but apparently I was very adamant that this was the case.

  2. This is hilarious, Jamie. Kids are too funny!

    I have thought many times of joining a book club, but some of the books those clubs read are horrendous and I don’t want to be forced to spend my precious reading time reading something I wouldn’t read in a million years.

    As for childhood misconceptions, I remember once listening to my parents talk about laxatives. I promptly told my mother, “I know what those are. They help you relax.” Turns out I wasn’t too far off.

    1. You were close about the laxative. But I don’t join book clubs because I don’t want reading to be mandatory. It would feel like high school again.

  3. Hilarious Jamie, out of the mouths of babes. I can see why they would think chicken nuggets are made from baby chickens. Art Linkletter used to interview kids, and my goodness, did we have fun listening to those interviews.

  4. Funny as always Jamie! Younger son and I have been part of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book group for 6 years now. We spend the majority of the time chatting about whatever we want. The group has had the same 6 members for years. Occasionally new people pop in for specific books (we had a nun once – came to discuss Jasper Fforde – Nursery Crimes book). They never come back. I think we scare them with our obsessive talk about zombies. I generally only read the book if I’m interested and if I have time. They all understand that writing comes first. In fact, I have to credit one of our members with hooking me up with Suze and J. He kept talking about the writer’s group and how I should go. Funny – look how good that turned out!

  5. Nope. My memories are not sweet or childlike. More terrifying. A monster under the bed who would grab your ankles and yank you under…that reoccured for years. And let’s not forget the cute purple hearts on my bed’s canopy that turned into spiders as I slept…it was so bad I not only changed linens but then changed into a new room with a new bed. Umm idk, no fairies or cuteness in my past…just horrible monsters. Help! Lol

  6. I’m late getting over here, Jamie. My grandma Gert used to tell me the moon was made of green cheese. I was sort of skeptical, but I sort of bought it too, especially since where I grew up there was virtually no light pollution and on clear nights you could sometimes see bumps and shadows on the moon, so it did kind of look like a ball of lumpy cheese. But my favorite one of these stories is not my own, it’s my dear brother-in-law’s (this is not the brother-in-law who woke up hungover with a tattoo – twice!). Somehow we got on the subject of pickles. B-i-L, who was about 32 at the time, had apparently never made the connection between cucumbers and pickles. Somebody asked him where pickles came from, and he said, “I don’t know … a pickle plant?” Although we love him dearly, we have never, ever let him live it down. We’re like that.

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