Food puns and idioms abound in this bullying story.
Anthropomorphic fruit Bad Apple is indeed a bad apple, fond of teasing and scaring other foods such as Romaine, who “wilts in fear” after being startled. With sidekick Second Banana, Bad Apple torments others; meanwhile, empathetic Good Egg tells Zucchini it’s because Sour Grapes (who never appears in the illustrations nor in the text outside of this mention) called Bad Apple names and excluded him. The wordplay may engage readers, and the author’s note translates all of the idioms to confirm their meanings, but the illustrations verge on the garish, depicting the various foodstuffs with hard outlines, shiny surfaces, pipestem limbs, and cartoon facial features. Furthermore, their lockstep redundancy with the text leaves little scope for the imagination. Worst, the ease with which Good Egg helps transform Bad Apple into a good guy (if not in name) simply by inviting him to play rings false. Would that it were so easy to reform a bully—or, perhaps, would that the burden of reformation weren’t so often placed on victims in contemporary stories and discourse about bullying and kindnesses.
Leave this one on the shelf. (Picture book. 5-8)