A Web Site You Should Know: One Potato

Filed under: Gadgets

OnePotato.net digs up great picture books you might otherwise miss. Credit: One Potato



With 80 gajillion Web pages clogging up cyberspace, it's far too easy for a wonderful, helpful site to get lost amid all the status updates, pop-up ads, and adorably improbable kitten photos.

So if you haven't yet come across One Potato in your Web travels, by all means, click that link (when you're done reading this, that is). Parents, bedtime story readers, and anybody who needs to buy gifts for little kids might want to clear out a space for it in their bookmarks bar.

When it comes to picture books (of which there are also approximately 80 gajillion), everybody could use a little help sorting the instant classics from the instant clichés. Providing such assistance is a good part of what we try to do here on ParentDish. But it's the entire mission of One Potato. The site sets its spotlights not just on new releases, but on any great picture book that deserves readers -- especially those that may never have felt the glory of sitting face-out on a cardboard, front-of-store display. And you can purchase any books on One Potato, via Amazon, by clicking on it right then and then -- no need to leave the site and shop around for the new title you just read about.

Jay Bushara, the man behind the Potato, scours bookstores every week -- both mega chains and local independents -- to find overlooked or forgotten gems. He also solicits suggestions from One Potato visitors, and some of his more interesting discoveries come about in that way. A recent reader recommendation: The Bed Book, a children's picture book by Sylvia Plath(!). "Who knew?" said Bushara.

We contacted Bushara to ask him more about his work on the site:

ParentDish: How does a book rate your attention? What do you look for in a picture book?
Jay Bushara: I guess the same stuff you'd go looking for in thicker books -- a sense of being transported to a place you are not. Irreverence is nice. Pictures you're sure you've never seen. Characters that you can refer to, and not mix up with everybody else. Plus it helps to find something you won't tire of quickly ... because some of these books you are going to need to revisit many, many times.

PD: Very good point. My son once went for a week straight asking me to re-read him the same promotional coloring book he'd picked up at the dentist's office. In your choices, do you try to account for the fact that parents sometimes hate the books their children may love?
JB: I think it's absolutely crucial that we, as parents, find something to personally enjoy in the books we read to our kids, or the experience becomes a little sacrificial. No matter how noble our intentions then, we're probably going to run out of juice. The good news is this intersection between our respective enjoyments is probably bigger than we know.

CH: Okay, time for the big question: What's the meaning behind the name, One Potato?
JB: I liked Small Potato, but somebody was squatting on the domain name. And I liked Potato generally because it speaks to something hidden that we tend to take for granted.

CH: You have kids, but I assume you're probably beyond the stage of reading bedtime stories to them, no?
JB: I have two boys, now 8 years old and 13. All of us still enjoy reading picture books, and there's nothing nostalgic about it.

Related:
The Next Big Things in Children's Literature

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