PreS-Gr 1-This vaudeville show featuring a variety of vegetable performers seems to be a bit overcooked. Mr. B.A. Dilly, the pickled emcee, leads an audience of children through eight separate acts. String Beanie tosses salad with his feet, Bud the Spud turns himself into different potato dishes, Eeny-Weeny the Amazing Zucchini lifts a heavy tray of dishes, and the Last of the Red Hot Peppers perform acrobatics. The concept is clever; unfortunately, the presentation of both text and illustrations is scattered and confusing. There is just too much material here. The text, dialogue balloons, and sometimes preachy statements like, ``Vegetables help make you strong!'' are jumbled across the pages. The emcee sometimes introduces acts from offstage, making it difficult to identify exactly who is speaking. For one confusing moment, the action shifts backstage. All of this makes for a frenzied and fragmentary plot that is difficult to follow. The illustrations, made from cut-paper, paint, colored pencil, rubber stamps, and linoleum-block prints, are a hodgepodge of texture and color. Each scene is framed by drawings of the featured vegetable. The veggies themselves are funny and appealing, but difficult to look at against the busy background. Despite the good intentions, the only real information about nutrition is conveyed through the short appendix. For a more basic but crystal-clear introduction to vegetables, use Lois Ehlert's Growing Vegetable Soup (1987) or Eating the Alphabet (1989, both Harcourt).-Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
It's the pictures that grab you in this imaginative book about an unlikely topic: vegetables. Framed as a vaudeville show, the eight sprightly "acts" include the "lovely Miss Lotta Root with her twenty-four-karat voice" and the leggy, high-kicking Veggettes. While the style is clever, the writing is spartan, and there's little flow between the various routines. In addition, much of the substantive information about vegetables is relegated to an afterword where facts about nutritional value, growth, appearance, and other topics are related. The busy, childlike cut-paper collages are made from a veritable tossed salad of materials: paper, doilies, rubber stamps. Surrounded by flowing borders in earthy hues, the unique artwork is highly patterned and textured and includes plenty of balloons with dialogue. Despite its shortcomings, this may encourage young diners to gobble up their greens, but it's more likely they'll just enjoy the book for the fun of it.