When Frieda Caplan started working at the Seventh Street produce market in Los Angeles, there were only potatoes, bananas, tomatoes and apples for sale. Caplan thought it might be work giving something new a try. So she started selling mushrooms. Soon she was known as the Mushroom Queen and had her own stall at the market. She became known as a person who would taste anything and started selling kiwis, jicama, blood oranges, Asian pears and much more. Over the years she introduced consumers to many new things, including seedless watermelons in 1962, horned melon in 1984, and fresh lychee in 2015. Caplan’s daughters now work with her in her produce stall, introducing finds of their own and offering their unique and informed view of what the next big thing might be.
Rockliff offers a dynamic look at the woman who changed how America eats fruits and vegetables. Her fearless approach to trying new things combined with a deep instinct about what will work for the market. Beautifully, the book focuses on Caplan herself but also richly shows the things that she introduced to American stores. Readers are sure to find new fruits and vegetables on the pages here, and perhaps be brave enough to try then when they make their way to supermarkets across the country.
Potter’s illustrations are richly colored and warm. They show Caplan in the 1950s when she started and then steadily move forward in time, nicely showing the time period through the clothing of the people. The fruits and vegetables are rainbow bright and nicely labeled with their name and the year that Caplan discovered them for the U.S. market.
Bright, intelligent and full of juicy details. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
At sunset the garden needs its rest, but the vegetables are tossing and turning. Turnips are “tucked in tightly” while potatoes are closing their eyes. Tomatoes are humming lullabies and cauliflowers cuddle by droopy pea pods. The baby lettuce and baby carrots are snuggling while rhubarb reads stories to the broccoli. Soon the other vegetables are calm as the cucumbers. As the moon gets bright all of them are sleeping, tired from growing all day and all night.
Written in a musical rhyme, this picture book is ideal for reading aloud to toddlers and preschoolers. It takes a spring theme of gardening and turns it into a bedtime book that will make everyone tired, since little children are growing day and night too. Throughout the book, humor cleverly used alongside alliteration, making the book a treat for adults as well.
The art by OHora is marvelous. Readers can follow a worm through the garden as he tunnels past the tired veggies and finally falls asleep himself. The images move from showing root vegetables to garden beds from above, creating a winding path through this abundant garden.
Clever and seasonal, this spring bedtime book is one worth picking. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Through simple and colorful images, this picture book celebrates the colors of foods around us. The book walks readers through the ingredients in a pot of “Every Color Soup” made of vegetables and lentils. Lentils provide the blue, eggplants the purple, tomatoes for red, and so on. The result is a concept book that is inviting and offers plenty of space for little listeners to talk about food, colors and cooking. Have a plate of rainbow veggies ready to share after reading this one! Appropropriate for ages 2-4.(Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)
Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (9781481420495)
Two children prepare for the Holi, the Indian festival of colors. They gather specific flowers in the garden to make the powder for Holi. The book names the colors and flowers, creating a lovely quiet moment. The family then heads out together dressed all in white with their bowls and plates of colors. They are joined by friends and neighbors until suddenly, the colors burst and the powder poofs. Everyone shouts “Holi,hai” and then they head home. The final pages of the book tell of the meaning of the festival about fresh starts, friendship and forgiveness. The authors offer a final note about Holi at the end of the book as well. The illustrations are digital and have a cartoon smoothness about them that is modern. The colors are rich and vibrant, just right for this book about Holi and colors. There are few books about Holi in a picture book format, so get this one on your library shelves. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)
This board book is illustrated with photographs awash in color. The images vibrantly show Holi both with close-ups of people’s faces covered in colors and in images where the air itself is filled with color. The text is gently rhyming and invites even the youngest readers into the joy of Holi and a delight in the saturated colors on the page. Joyous and bright, this board book is just right for every library. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Lee is a pea and all of his friends are peas too. Except for Colin. Colin is a carrot. Colin is very different from the peas. He’s not the same green color. He doesn’t roll around like they do. He can’t really bounce and he can’t play hide-and-seek. But Colin is good at other things. He can be a slide for the peas to roll down. He can serve as a tower or a bridge. It’s because he is different that Lee loves him and so do all the other peas.
Hood takes a look at differences here in her very simple prose and while she points them out there is no sense at any time that Colin the carrot is misunderstood or left out. Instead the differences are pointed out and then embraced by the entire group. This ends up being a celebration of our differences and a look at how by being unique people provide new ideas for their community.
The illustrations are collaged out of plastic grocery bags. They have a wonderful texture to them that is very similar to crepe paper and their vibrant color adds to the appeal. The rows and rows of peas look out from the page, sometimes expressionless and other times very playful.
Great for even the littlest of children, this simple book on differences is as delicious as peas and carrots. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
This is the third book in the sweet series about a bear that lives with a flock of ducks. Bear discovers his love of jam and forgot to share it with the ducklings. He ate it late at night and during the day. Mama Duck worried that Bear wasn’t eating a balanced diet, even though Bear proved that he could balance very well. So she started trying to feed Bear vegetables at dinner with no jam. Bear refused to even taste them and went to bed hungry. Breakfast was oatmeal with no jam in sight. Dinner came around with no jam either. But then the ducks showed Bear a new game! It was a game that got him eating vegetables without even noticing and then he was a happy bear because he could also have a jar or two of jam a day along with the ducks.
Throughout this series, Gavin has played off of the fact that Bear has unique needs just because he’s a bear compared to all of the other ducks in the family. The last book was about hibernating and this one is about delicious foods. Bear is a wonderful character who just is who he is. His love of jam suits his character perfectly and once again the ducks band together to create a solution to help Bear be healthier and yet still be himself too.
The art has delicate lines, the ducklings tiny compared to the mountainous bear. The watercolors add sweep across some pages, but most of the pages use white as a background. Small details add to the appeal with flowered pillows on seats to get little ducklings high enough and ducklings merrily munching on fruits and vegetables.
A book that addresses healthy eating with a sense of balance and plenty of sweetness. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
This silly little book is a read-aloud gem. A donkey declares on the cover “I yam a donkey!” But unfortunately, he’s speaking to a yam and a rather persnickety one at that. The yam can’t leave the donkey’s odd grammar alone, and tries to correct him, but that quickly devolves into a “Who’s on first” type of exchange where misunderstandings pile up and the silliness does too. When the yam finally manages to explain that he is not a donkey (as the donkey has been misunderstanding) but actually a yam and all of the other characters are also vegetables, the ending takes a deliciously dark turn.
Bell uses impeccable comedic timing to make this picture book work so well. The vaudeville like comedy works perfectly here, playing up the stodgy yam and the enthusiastically confused donkey. The two are divergent personalities and make for a book that is such a strong read aloud that you really can’t read it silently. It begs to be shared and done with exquisitely different and wild voices since it’s written entirely in dialogue.
Bell’s illustrations are large and funny. Again, the two characters are shown as very different and the donkey mistaken the rather wrinkly and orange yam as a donkey is made all the funnier thanks to the illustrations. The final twist is wonderful and will have children who are a little older than preschool enjoying the grammar jokes and the ending together.
Funny, wildly silly and completely satisfying, this picture book will work best with elementary aged children who will get the dark humor as well as the grammar jokes. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
All different sorts of vegetables demonstrate the joys of wearing big-kid underwear in all sorts of colors and styles. Never taking the subject too seriously, this book celebrates an often under-appreciated piece of clothing. One after another vegetables show the different sorts of underwear from dirty to clean, big to small, and serious to funny. But there is one sort of kid who doesn’t wear underwear, since babies wear diapers. Suitable giggle-worthy, these grinning vegetables invite young children to join the underwear ranks.
Chapman has written this book in an infectious rhyme that is jaunty and adds much to the fun of reading this book aloud. One never quite knows what is on the next page, except that it will be friendly and fun. The book ends with a silly reminder that you should have your clothes on top of your underwear before you leave the house, something that will have preschoolers laughing along.
Chapmas has created an entire garden of smiling vegetables here. Using whitespace very nicely, they pop on the page in all of their colorfulness. The vegetables are friendly, approachable and entirely silly. Children will immediately get the joke of vegetables being the ones to show humans how to wear undies.
Funny and friendly, this is a great pick for potty training giggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Get into the summer veggie crunching mood with this book that celebrates vegetables of all sorts!
Rah, rah, radishes! Red and white.
Carrots are calling. Take a bite.
Oh boy, bok choy! Brussels sprout.
Broccoli. Cauliflower. Shout it out!
With a rhythm that is great fun and contagious, this book will have even the most dubious children cheering for vegetables too.
Sayre pairs her rhymes with bright photographs of vegetables from farmer’s markets. The freshness is apparent as is the abundance. It’s an ideal setting for celebrating farming and food. Her photographs are as crisp as the pea pods and as colorful as the peppers.
A great introduction to trying new foods or visiting a farmer’s market, this book is a celebration of good eats. Yum! Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
Pig lives on an apple farm where they grow lots and lots of apples. And what does Pig get to eat? Apples, apples, and more apples. Mrs. Pippins owns the farm and she makes all sorts of apple dishes for pig to eat, but he is sick of apples all the time. What he really wants to eat are vegetables! So Pig breaks into the vegetable patch and begins gulping down squash, seeds and all. When Mrs. Pippin finds him in the garden, she is not happy. She ties Pig up. When she catches him trying to break the rope, she shuts him in his pen. Though Pig tries to escape, he can’t. But he is determined not to eat any more apples! Pig notices the next day that his pen looks a lot like a garden. And after digesting the squash, he has the seeds he needs to make one.
Thurman’s words are simple and have a jaunty rhythm to them. There are wonderful sounds woven into the book that children will enjoy mimicking. Pig’s determination and tenacity as well as his creative solution to the problem add to the appeal.
Ward’s collage and cut paper illustrations have a warmth to them. This is accentuated by the use of fabrics that offer a texture to the images. In the apple orchard, there are words on the paper that make up the leaves: apple recipes. The illustrations are large enough to read to a group. And goodness knows, the poop event at the end will be a hit!
A friendly and warm introduction to gardening in an organic way, this book is a happy addition to gardening story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.