Joost Elffers and Saxton Freymann first revealed how peppers, pears, and potatoes could magically take on expressive faces and lively personalities in Play with Your Food
. Since then, they've put their portraiture skills to good use telling fun kids' stories like this, populated by all manner of anthropomorphic produce.
Gus and his dog, Button, (with black-eyed peas for eyes) live in a drab little mushroom town until one day a storm blows a mysterious bright green object by their window. Gus then becomes inspired to venture out into the world, through the Howling Forest: "Gus knew it was a dangerous place where he must never go. 'But I must find out,' said Gus, 'where things this bright can grow.'" And so begins his adventure, past Howell the Wolf (a sly artichoke), into the arms of new friends Cecil, Pip, and Belle (a good-natured green apple, a toothy orange, and a wide-eyed red pepper, respectively), and on to the bustling city of Cornucopia.
Elffers and Freymann pack each page with scores of different fruits and vegetables, from Swiss chard to star fruit to patty pan squash, and even the backdrops brim with ingenuity. (Are those mushroom capitals on celery pillars? Is that river really made out of red cabbage?) Although you'll almost certainly risk some subsequent food play, Gus and Button are pals worth joining for a trip. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
Freymann and Elffers, who turned pumpkins into talking heads in Dr. Pompo's Nose, try coaxing emotion from a mushroom in this overproduced book. Once again, the collaborators manipulate fruits and vegetables to look like faces, photograph the results and create elaborate vegetarian tableaux. Gus is a fungusy fellow constructed by joining two mushrooms top-to-top, with one stem for a head and a split stem for legs. One day, he and Button (a mushroom-cap pet with a piggy stem-nose) find a bright-green sprout in their portobello village. To find the source of this colorful thing, they brave an all-artichoke forest, where they meet an astonished red pepper with black-eyed peas for eyes: " `You crossed the wolfy woods?' gasped Belle. `That is just incredible./ Either you are very brave, or you must be inedible.' " Many rhyming couplets later, the quest ends in the city of Cornucopia, where onion domes rest atop parsnip foundations and pointy-nosed radishes drive cucumber cars. Freymann and Elffers do more slicing and peeling than in previous books, and Cornucopia's salady skyline is a witty foray into architecture. But the clumsily built Gus and Button don't convey personality through their natural curves and bumps, as the radishes and red pepper do. Despite its fresh ingredients, this volume looks artificial. All ages.
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