Still Life Stewby Helena Clare Pittman, Victoria Raymond
Rosa grows a variety of bright and beautiful vegetables, picks them, paints a picture, and then makes them into a tasty stew.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyRose's vegetable garden is a feastfirst for the eyes, then for the palate. Pittman and Raymond (Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun) gather a carnival of legumes into a sedate pose ("enough to fill her flapping, empty, big, white, waiting paper"), which an aspiring artist uses as the model for her still-life painting. After Rosa completes the picture, the objets d'art turn into culinary ingredients as the girl heaves them into a simmering stew pot ("cut, dice, chop, and slice... salt, pepper, simmer, and serve"). Raymond's clay-baked sculptures add a kooky exuberance to Pittman's bright, bouncy text. The illustrationsphotographs of the three-dimensional sculpturesinclude full-haired Rosa, with rope-like locks, surrounded by "lopsided, flute-sided, slippy, slopey, up-and-down-sided" peppers, "long, lanky leeks" and "lumpy-tumbly, wobbly potatoes." The cornucopia of replicated vegetables appears tantalizingly realistic in contrast to Rosa's stiff, occasionally jarring dough-shaped figure and tilted backgrounds with surreal perspectives. Pittman's mulligan of invented, tactile words is a scrumptious, if strenuous, mouthful. A recipe for Rosa's "Still-Life Stew" provides the finishing touch. Ages 4-8. (May)
School Library JournalK-Gr 4In this imaginative picture book, Rosa grows vegetables for her still-life painting. As she picks each one, the rhythmic text describes it with an artist's eye, admiring its special characteristics: "Wide zucchini. Long zucchini./Loopy, curvy, striped zucchini./Rubbery, scratchy, oversize, and teeny-weeny." A variety of other vegetables are celebrated and the name of each one is highlighted in boldfaced type. When Rosa has gathered all of the desired objects, she paints her picture. However, there is one thing more: she cuts up her models to make a "chewy, chompy, tasty, slurpy, yummy/still-life stew." The bright, whimsical illustrations are sculpted out of colored modeling compound, baked, painted with acrylics, assembled, and photographed. Double-page spreads show a lush garden in full bloom, while other pictures focus on a particular vegetable artfully displayed on the page: a variety of peppers are practically woven into Rosa's hair, yellow and striped zucchini dance around a close-up of her red rubber boot, and green beans are strung across her open hands. A recipe for stew is included, as is a brief description of how this book was made. A fine combination of exuberant writing and art that will cheer the creative spirit.Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME
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