Author-illustrator Juana Medina, originally from Colombia and the artist for Doreen Cronin’s endearing Smick! (2015), brings readers found-object art—with fruits and veggies, no less—in this appealing new counting book for young readers.
Found-object art is created from objects not normally considered art, such as (in this case) Romaine lettuce and radishes. Mmm. Each uncluttered spread—there’s generous white space at each page turn—features one of Medina’s object drawings with the numbers (from one to 10) shown numerically and spelled out for readers. One avocado becomes a deer; two radishes become mice; three peppers become monkeys; five tomatoes of various shades become Tomato Turtles; and so on. Medina’s simple, relaxed black lines flesh out what the objects don’t convey. Six sets of cucumbers become the eyes of six alligators, for instance, and her assured lines bring the rest of their bodies to life.
Medina manages to convey a surprising amount of emotion with these minimalistic creations: The Radicchio Lions seem pensive and shy; the alligators’ googly cucumber eyes are goofy and funny in the best possible way; and the Clementine Kitties seem confident and aloof, as cats are wont to be. She also knows when to stop drawing: The Pepper Monkeys have no lines for mouths but look no less like the busy monkeys they are, given the sinewy arms and legs with which Medina endows them, as they fly from (unseen) branch to branch. Walnuts even become birds in Medina’s world with just a few lines for wings, beaks and appendages. Yes, flying walnuts. She makes it work.
It all culminates in “one big delicious salad.” Children will delight in the counting and may be inspired to create their own found-object art, culinary-themed or not.
Dinner is served! And counting from one to 10 was never so delicious.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.