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I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

by Lauren Child


This story asks questions about the permissibly of lying and the relationship between imagination and reality.

Lola is a picky eater who dislikes carrots, peas, potatoes, mushrooms, spaghetti, eggs, sausages, cauliflower, cabbage, baked beans, bananas, oranges, apples, rice, cheese, fish sticks, and most of all TOMATOES! Unfortunately, her brother Charlie sometimes has to be in charge of her dinner. He has to find creative ways to turn disliked foods into tempting treats. The most disgusting food for Lola – tomatoes – now become “moonsquirters”! His picky sister now cleans her plate and eats her tomatoes.

Read aloud video by Play and Shine

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

The book I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child presents a fabulous world in which normal food items become things like orange twiglets from Jupiter, green drops from Greenland, cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji and ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea. The story starts with Charlie and his little sister Lola, who is a fussy eater. In order to make his sister Lola eat the food she dislikes, Charlie uses his imagination and creativity to change her mind about food.

The first set of philosophical questions concern lying and deception. Is Charlie lying when he tells Lola that she is eating “orange twiglets from Jupiter” instead of carrots? Is playing a trick a deception? One of your students might explain that is a game, not a lie; so what is a lie? What are white lies?

Another set of questions deals with imagination and reality. In reality, Lola hates tomatoes, peas, potatoes and other foods. However, she finds Charlie’s fanciful, made-up foods“quite tasty.” Why would that be the case? What is the difference between real-world carrots and Charlie’s “orange twiglets from Jupiter?”

Finally, Lola claims that she will “never not ever” eat a tomato. She might argue that in fact, she never did eat tomatoes, rather, she ate “moonsquirters.” You might use this idea to explore language with your students. What does “never” mean? Did Lola eat tomatoes or “moonsquirters?”

Questions for Philosophical Discussion


Charlie said “Oh, you think these are carrots. These are not carrots. These are orange twiglets from Jupiter.”

  1. Does Charlie deceive his sister?
  2. Is tricking someone into believing something the same as lying?
  3. Have you told a lie before? What is your feeling after you tell a lie?
  4. Why do you think it is okay to lie and why not?
  5. What makes it okay to lie?
  6. How would you feel if your best friend lied to you but it was for your own good?

Imagination and Reality

Lola tried the orange twiglets from Jupiter and she took another bite.

  1. Why do you think Lola can eat “orange twiglets from Jupiter” but not carrots?
  2. Do you think “carrots” are different from “orange twiglets”?
  3. Do you think “orange twiglets from Jupiter, green drops from Greenland, cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji, ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, and moonsquirters” exist in the world or not?
  4. Why do you like to play make-believe or why not?
  5. Why do you think Lola believes that tomatoes are “moonsquirters”?
  6. How do you know what is real?
  7. What is the difference between “make-believe” and “real”?

Never not ever

When Lola was sitting at the table, waiting for her dinner and she said: “I absolutely will never not ever eat a tomato.”

  1. What does Lola said what she said?
  2. Why does Lola eat the tomatoes the end of the stories?
  3. How do you know she changed her mind?

Original questions and guidelines for philosophical discussion by Sandy Hsu. Edited September 2020 by The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics.

Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our Resources page.

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Back to All Books Book cover for I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato featuring an illustration of two white children with blond hair seated next to each other at a table. The boy's eyes are directed at his sister, while her eyes are directed at a tomato on the table. Download & Print Email Book Module

About the Prindle Institute

As one of the largest collegiate ethics institutes in the country, the Prindle Institute for Ethics’ uniquely robust national outreach mission serves DePauw students, faculty and staff; academics and scholars throughout the United States and in the international community; life-long learners; and the Greencastle community in a variety of ways. In 2019, the Prindle Institute partrnered with Thomas Wartenberg and became the digital home of his Teaching Children Philosophy discussion guides.

Further Resources

Some of the books on this site may contain characterizations or illustrations that are culturally insensitive or inaccurate. We encourage educators to visit the Association for Library Service to Children’s resource guide for talking to children about issues of race and culture in literature. They also have a guide for navigating tough conversations.  PBS Kids’ set of resources for talking to young children about race and racism might also be useful for educators.

Philosophy often deals with big questions like the existence of a higher power or death. Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our resources page.

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