In this debut illustrated children’s book, a bad French fry causes trouble in a land of fun, delicious food.
In Fun Food Land, locals enjoy stopping by the Poutine Café, where French-E-Fry is owner and chef. Not only is the food great, it’s also free. The chef has Fry Friends who live under his protective hat (a beret, of course), who help him remember recipes and propose new ones. But one day, the chef tells Miss Cupcake about his suggestion for a new dessert: s’mores! The recipe starts with capturing some marshmallows when they aren’t looking, then melting them, drizzling them with chocolate, sandwiching them between graham crackers…and eating them. Horrified, Miss Cupcake hurries to warn Mr. and Mrs. Marshmallow, who panic and run, leaving a sticky trail behind. At the café, a regular called Pops discovers the truth: a rotten potato named Larry has somehow infiltrated the Fry Friends under the chef’s beret. Larry comes from a bad neighborhood, Junk Food Land, where the “unhappy packaged foods with bad attitudes live,” and he wants to plant “French-E-Fry’s head with many Fun Food Land residents as main ingredients!” Pops and Miss Cupcake come up with a cunning plan to foil Larry, and everyone celebrates at the end with marshmallow hugs and free poutine. The logic of Joelle’s and Beaupre’s tale doesn’t make much sense: how does the chef consist of being a container of fries, which are also independent beings? And if it’s horrifying to eat marshmallows, why not French fries, the main ingredient in poutine? Poutine (non-Canadian parents may need to explain the reference) is greasy-spoon fare. Residents of Fun Food Land include the Marshmallows, Miss Cupcake, Danny Donut, and Hamburger Harold, who hardly make a strong contrast to the denizens of Junk Food Land. And it’s a little odd to make s’mores, that campfire favorite, an object of horror. These difficulties aside, the book is amusing, with an exciting story of danger averted through cooperation, planning, and daring. Joelle’s illustrations are dynamic, colorful, and expressive, helping to tell the story.
Offers entertainment and will likely whet appetites for s’mores, but lacks clarity.