Food For Thought,
Gus and Button,
How Are You Peeling?
by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
Three lovely picture books by the same author have managed to become a hit with us (and the world over), which is quite an endorsement for the innovative work - edible art.
In this short video, Saxton Freymann talks about his art.
A while back, Food for Thought came into Oggie's hands, and was met with an enthusiastic response. The ingenious way in which vegetables and fruits were used to represent faces with emotions and creatures with features made a suitable impression as expected.
When I found One Lonely Seahorse (for $1.99 at a garage sale), by the same team, I had to add it to our bookshelf. The distinctive pictures immediately appealed to the kid. It is a counting book of sorts - from 1 lonely Chioggia Beet seahorse to 10 Bell Peppers angelfish. [sample images available here]
The seahorse wonders if she is all alone in the vast ocean. But one by one, 2 small crabs, 3 puffer fish, 4 lobsters, 5 turtles, 6 dolphins, 7 eels, 8 octopi, 9 mackerel and 10 angelfish come by and reassure her that, "We're here too!"
But the most attractive part for the kiddo has been the last page which lists all the fruits and vegetables used to make the said sea creatures, sea plants and scenery. His favorite part of the reading experience is a sort of made-up "I Spy" where he goes back to the pages of the book to point out where the ginger root or fava beans or horseradish or white squash is all 'hiding in plain sight' making up the scenery.
Oyster mushroom, kale, morel, hen-of-the-woods mushroom, enoki mushroom appear on various pages to make up the coral reef or other ocean features. Horned melon puffer fish, long eggplant mackerel, banana dolphins, shiitake mushrooms and tamarind crabs, pineapple turtles, cranberry bean eels... all kinds of exotic vegetables and fruits arranged creatively to tell a simple story.
Most definitely the illustrations take center-stage for this book, and the text keeps up. Unlike How Are You Peeling?, which did not get as much repeat reads possibly because of the open-ended-ness of the questions therein, One Lonely Seahorse is a huge hit, eagerly shared with friends in school as well.
Besides exposing the young ones to the various edible natural foods and piquing their curiosity about their taste and appearance, I am sure the book has inspired many kids to play with their food (something quite discouraged in today's society for some reason) and come up with edible art of their own.
[image source: arthuralevinebooks.com]