Salmon on Toast
By D.J. Vandor, illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire
I read of a hungry young mollusk,
Many tins of salmon he’d demolish.
Spread thick on some toast,
He would eat more than most.
They say slugs don’t belch,
I say, bollocks.
Meet Pug the adorable slug. His love for canned salmon served on toast is what drives Pug’s misadventures.
After misplacing his can opener, Pug sets out on a quest to find the missing ingredient for his favourite dish — salmon on toast.
His perseverance and determination promote the positive character traits often talked about in classrooms when children face adversity.
Not your usual bunny rabbit or princess protagonist, this genial gastropod became an instant hit with local primary and kindergarten students when Kamloops This Week introduced Pug and his adventures to get students’ reactions.
Here’s what some local kindergarten students had to say about it.
“Pug is so cute. I like his sideways eyes.”
“Those whales look like they’re flying.”
“It’s funny how Pug throws the salmon tins at the door to try and open them.”
The book was such a hit with the kindergarten students that they wanted to hear the story again and again.
Students giggled from beginning to end and reacted strongly to the surprise finish — learning that slugs really do burp.
For the author’s first effort at writing a children’s book, Douglas Vandor’s story garnered rave reviews from his young audience.
“I’m especially proud reading it to my two young children, who are six and four,” Vandor said.
“When I hear them playing by themselves and they’re repeating lines from the book, or talking about Pug, or trying to pretend to be Pug, or burping — a lot — and thinking ‘It’s OK to burp out loud now,’ it warms my heart.”
Grade 2/3 students also took a liking to the hungry critter on his quest for sourcing more salmon, so much so that students wrote to the author, sending along drawings of their favourite parts in the story, many offering their own suggestions for a sequel, as part of their classroom assignment.
For many years, Vandor had been living with the character of Pug the slug in his head.
Since retiring as an Olympic rowing athlete, Vandor’s first children’s book has proven to be a success and he is anticipating writing more books.
Born and raised in Quebec, at an early age Vandor had a dream of going to the Olympics.
Years later, Vandor would find himself winning eight world cups in rowing and three world championship rowing medals, in addition to appearing in three Olympic Games — Athens in 2004 (as a spare), Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
Vandor, now retired at age 46, lives in Vancouver with his wife and two children.
He said writing has always been his pastime, especially when taking time away from training, allowing him to rest his body while exercising his mind.
A firm believer in following one’s dreams, Vandor said the theme of perseverance in the book is a message especially important during this recent pandemic year.
Vandor said the story’s character, Pug, illustrates so much of what people young and old alike are going through as they seek out solutions to life’s problems.
“It’s the Pug the slug attitude,” Vandor said. “You try thinking outside the box. You try to figure out a way to get things done. You just keep trying. It doesn’t always work, but a lot of times it does.”
Recalling his favourite quote that speaks to his life, Vandor replied “Hard work doesn’t guarantee you anything, but without it, you’re going nowhere.”
Or, as Pug the slug might say, “When life closes a door, open the pantry.”
Salmon on Toast is available online at chapters.indigo.ca, amazon.ca and barnesandnoble.com in paperback, hardcover and e-book.