In Schirado’s (Creatures: A Journey Through Life, 2002) children’s book, a group of “Seeds” decide to whip up a tasty five-course meal of poetry.
After an opening poem that introduces the five senses as individual “Creatures,” the story opens in the country of Lorem Ipsem, where no one has taste buds. One day, “A disgruntled Seed group / got fed up, so to speak, / until finally their feelings / hit the peak of their pique,” and they decide to create their own tasty food in a kitchen they built themselves. Getting the right ingredients requires growing their own food, so they build a farm as well. Soon after this, the poem veers off in a different direction, revisiting the five senses and then offering a running, rhyming list of foods and food preparations. Some are foods that children are likely to encounter (“Red radish and cucumber / are fresh as the dew. / If you like your tongue hot, / try some horseradish too”). But other suggestions are odd and, in some places, potentially illegal—such as a six-stanza discussion of how to eat a whale. The rhymes and cadence read well aloud, and older children who are confident with wordplay may find some of the rhymes worth repeating. Other sections are problematic, however—not just for their inclusion of unusual foods, but for their strange national stereotyping: “In Australia, for dinner / you don’t want to be / a grilled marsupial: / a kangaroo wallaby” or “China is big. / You may want to think twice / before eating peppered panda patties / or moose made of minced rice.” Assenzo’s illustrations of the strange Creatures are charming, but the story gives no sense of why monstrous humanoids are working in the kitchen after the initial setup is forgotten.
A strange book of rhymes with a vocabulary that might be best for older kids.