Reviewed by Keith Mitchell
This is a book aimed at getting children interested in vegetables and is aimed at the 8-12 age group. First off it is a large book, somewhere between A3 and A4 size, consisting of 40 pages of text by Anette Roeder complimenting the illustrations by Olaf Hajek. He is a well known artist and illustrator, specialising in modern depictions of vegetables, in vibrant colours. He uses people and animals in an interesting manner to enhance the vegetables as seen in the examples at the end of this review. Each illustration tells a story, sometimes like a fairy tale and are often great fun in their own right. The book has been translated from German into English.
The introduction gives a scientific explanation of what is a vegetable, with the general rules of how to identify them. The text explains how fruits and vegetable can be confusing as there are exceptions, such as rhubarb is actually a vegetable! It also points out the difference between tubers and root vegetables when describing beets, later in the book. The sweet potato entry in particular has great information, with references to a 57 million year old fossil in India, George Washington and even NASA. The illustration accompanying it was not only a favourite of mine, but of my junior reviewer and his siblings.
The each text describes each of the vegetables, giving some interesting facts about its history , origins and uses. There is also information as to what bits can be eaten, which need cooking and which are not edible. A few examples of varieties are given. There are several humorous comments which makes the book very readable. A particular favourite being in the “Pea and Bean” section, which I will leave to your imagination!
I gave this book to a very intelligent 8 year old who managed to read it. He found it really interesting, learnt a lot about the vegetable and noticed all sorts of detail in the pictures. He thought the pictures were really bright and colourful and particularly the use of animals. He spent quite a bit of time studying each picture. I read it myself and learnt quite a bit about vegetables in general and those contained in the book in particular. My personal view is that it would be more suited to the older children of the age range as there are some detailed descriptions using longer words.
At the end of the vegetable section there is an informative piece on Olaf Hajek in relation to his painting and vegetable illustrations.
At a RRP of £14.95 some people may consider this book a little overpriced as it contains just 40 pages. However, the amount of information it contains and excellent way the writer has given insights into numerous vegetables does it credit. If you like a more modern form owith humour contained in the illustrations then this is a book that will definitely appeal. It is my belief that children in the target age bracket and even teenagers would find it interesting, obtain a fair bit of knowledge and be encouraged to eat or even grow vegetables they have read about. At the rear of the book there is a notice stating “”Our production is climate neutral” and “paper from responsible sources”.
This book is due for release on March 4th 2021.
This product can be purchased from Prestel Junior Publishing here.