A luscious tribute to a New Orleans institution and to the city he supplies.
Mr. Okra stands beside his brightly decorated produce truck, with its prominent “BE NICE OR LEAVE!” signs. He’s rather brightly decorated himself, with his red-and-white striped shirt and yellow suspenders in Henriquez’s painted illustrations, and he smiles benevolently through fluffy whiskers as he sings out his wares. Daley pairs each of his cries to a city sight: the “P” sounds in “I got peaches, pears, and apples” are reminiscent of the percussive rhythms in Congo Square; his thin, tall asparagus recall the steeples of the St. Louis Cathedral; the eggplants he proffers are “as dark as the coffee at Café du Monde.” Colored words in the text match the tempting colors of his fruits and veggies, and they also often echo the hues of the selected locales and landmarks. At day’s end, the truck motors off “like a big cargo ship on the Mississippi River,” leaving behind a personal note from the man himself and warm feelings all round. Though the human figures are often stiff in the lightly outlined watercolor illustrations, Henriquez captures the rainbow of humanity that is New Orleans.
A taste of the Big Easy that may whet appetites for a real visit—not to mention a healthy snack. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)