One bad banana in the bunch started Vernon D. Gibbs II on his journey to become a children’s author.
The New Jersey stay-at-home father of three, who is a contributor to our City Dads Group blog, said his son, Justin, was getting ready to toss out a bruised and overripe banana several years ago. Gibbs interceded, showing him that the brown and dented fruit would be a perfect addition to a smoothie — which Justin simply ate up.
“From there, a story grew about eating healthy, creating less waste and how we all sometimes struggle or don’t bother to try to find value in ourselves and each other,” Gibbs said. “In a time when more and more kids and adults are struggling with self-doubt and hopelessness, this message of hope and rooting for the underdog is needed.”
Gibbs, working with his cousin Steven T. Gray, turned his idea into When Good Fruit Goes Bad. The 36-page illustrated adventure focuses on grocer Hank Huckleberry, who loves to sell fresh fruits and veggies. When some of his past-its-prime fruit rebel and take over his store, Hank needs to find a way to make all right again.
While the book, on the surface, is about broadening one’s healthy food options, Gibbs notes it is also about looking beyond what one sees to find inner worth. “Despite some bumps and bruises that might keep you from looking and feeling ‘perfect,’ you have value,” said Gibbs who also writes the blog, Cool Minivan Dad. “You just may have to work a bit harder to find it in yourself and others.”
Gibbs hopes When Good Fruit Goes Bad can be used by adults to start discussions with children around wellness of body and mind, speaking up for yourself, caring about the health of others, and much more. He and Gray even put together a downloadable guide to help adults use the book to spark such lessons.
Online reviews for When Good Fruit Goes Bad have been very positive, including one person who wrote on Amazon: “Black superhero? Healthy eating? Messages about not judging based on looks? This book checks all the boxes. This is a fun book your kids will love that teaches good eating habits and acceptance even for folks who look a little different, using rebellious fruit as the example.”