STILL-LIFE STEW

A book that begins and ends with vegetables, with an art lesson in between. There’s a lot of fun in these pages, full of luscious textures and bright colors, fully rounded forms, and a mouthwatering premise. Rosa’s big, shining, but empty white paper propels her to her garden for painting inspiration, where she picks vegetables for her still life: tomatoes in all their variegated shapes, peppers galore, potatoes from big and brown to small and russet, spinach, green beans, three kinds of zucchini, leeks, and more. She paints them into a lovely scene, then chops and slices them up for stew for supper. The bouncy text leaps into an occasional rhyme: The typeface becomes bold or bends along the curve of a zucchini, adding to the rhythm. Rosa herself, in her overalls, long squiggly curls, and rosebud mouth, is created from the same Sculpey clay as the vegetables, with the same comfortable three-dimensionality. The author’s and illustrator’s notes are set up like recipes, which is somewhat precious, but still intriguing, and a real recipe for the stew is included. Of course, this ought to be paired with Lois Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup (1987) or her Eating the Alphabet (1989) for a story-hour vegetable course. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-0251-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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UNDER THE SNOW

A snow-covered countryside may look barren of life, but Stewart’s quiet text takes readers under the blanket of white to “a hidden world” where ladybugs sleep en masse and voles tunnel from tree to tree, where a wood frog freezes safely solid and bluegills and waterboatmen share frigid waters, where a turtle lies buried in mud and “even on the coldest winter days, red-spotted newts dodge and dart, whiz and whirl just below the ice.” Bergum’s equally quiet watercolors spread across the pages in panels that offer cross-sections and magnified details to give readers glimpses of the world beneath the snow. Their precision lends a dignity and beauty even to a sleeping centipede and a barbeled carp. Readers will come away with an appreciation for the adaptability and endurance of the animal world. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56145-493-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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