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The Red Lemon

The Red Lemon

5.0 3
by Bob Staake

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Farmer McPhee isn't ready for what he's about to discover among his cherished bright yellow fruits . . . a red lemon! Readers young and old will delight in the deliciously vibrant world that acclaimed author-illustrator, Bob Staake, has created. Now available as an affordable Dragonfly paparback!


Farmer McPhee isn't ready for what he's about to discover among his cherished bright yellow fruits . . . a red lemon! Readers young and old will delight in the deliciously vibrant world that acclaimed author-illustrator, Bob Staake, has created. Now available as an affordable Dragonfly paparback!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A perfectly rotund farmer sings the praises of his latest lemon crop: "There's nothing like lemons./ This fruit isn't mellow./ They're tangy!/ They're tasty!/ They're tart / and soooooo/ yellow!" In these pages, Saake's (Hello, Robots) retro-style graphics exude giddy happiness: Farmer McPhee bounces about his orchard in a state of exhilaration. In his comically manic reveries, he imagines all the delicious things his lemons will be used to make. ("Lemons for sherbet and lemons for pie!/ Lemons for drinks on the Fourth of July!") Children should get a kick out of seeing how Saake manipulates simple shapes into cool, cartoon-like images. But the story takes a darker turn when McPhee spies something shocking in one of his trees: a single red lemon. "I can't have red lemons/ where yellow fruit grows!" fumes McPhee, as Staake covers the scene with a wash of smoldering red. He hurls the red fruit into the ocean, where it lands on a deserted island, germinates and, after a few centuries (the passage of time is symbolized by a vaguely disturbing, post-apocalyptic-looking view of the orchard), the produce from the red lemon orchard becomes a sought-after gastronomic treat. One man's lemon is another's lemonade? The moral may pass over youngsters' heads, but the pictures will keep them enthralled. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
Farmer McPhee grows lemons in his orchard by the sea. He joyfully shouts the wonders of his bright yellow lemons and how they can be made into lemonade, pies, and muffins. But one day he finds a red lemon. He's quite upset because he believes that people only want yellow lemons: "Who'd squeeze this red thing in their afternoon tea? Who'd buy a red lemon from Farmer McPhee?" He tosses the lemon across the sea to an island. Years later, the lemon orchard has turned to weeds, but on the island, the seed from the red lemon sprouted and now there are nearly twenty red lemon trees. The islanders love them, especially when they found out that the red lemons were six times as sweet! The short and lively rhymes keep the story moving, and the bright and colorful illustrations, which are geometric and computer-enhanced, lend a quirky visual twist. This book would be helpful for toddlers who are learning colors and shapes. Part of the "Deluxe Golden Books" series.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Farmer McPhee delights in his grove of lemon trees. Each perfect lemon is tasty, tart, and, most importantly, yellow. His pride fairly bursts off the page, as does his outrage when he discovers a red lemon on one of his trees. He cannot imagine a world in which lemonade is red and cupcakes are crimson. In a fit of anger, he hurls the offending fruit across the sea to a distant island. Two hundred years pass and McPhee's prized lemon tree groves are replaced by weeds. But on the island, a vibrant city has grown up around a grove of red lemon trees. As it turns out, these lemons are six times sweeter than yellow ones, and now people travel across oceans and seas to get them. Bold, enticing illustrations dominate the pages. Staake creates a fun, dynamic world reminiscent of Dr. Seuss's in its sweeping arcs, bright colors, multicolored cartoon people, and effortlessly rhyming text. The circles used to create Farmer McPhee and his trees give the book a polished, graphic-arts feel. Pair this tangy tale with Laura Vaccaro Seeger's Lemons Are Not Red (Roaring Brook, 2004) for a refreshing storytime combination.-Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wildly colorful pages filled with geometrically shaped figures tell the tale of Farmer McPhee and his lemon orchards. The rhyming story begins conventionally, with an ode to tart, yellow lemons and their many delicious uses. One day Farmer McPhee, as round as his trees, is shocked to spy a red lemon. Imagining terrible havoc created by a differently colored lemon, McPhee quickly throws it over to an island. Two hundred years pass. The farmer's land is gray, sere and empty. Meanwhile, the island has become a wonderland of red lemons. A quirky city has evolved with an economy based on these fabulously sweet red lemons, attracting people from all over the world. Staake uses a wide color palette with exaggerated shapes and people; his geometric forms are vividly cartoonish and exuberant, yet deceptively simple. Imaginative use of perspective and the multihued, varying sized text add flair. The energetic city is filled with visual and verbal humor, and the important message is subtly conveyed. Pair with some lemonade and perhaps a muffin, and enjoy the depth of meaning behind this computer-enhanced visual feast. (Picture book. 4-9)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

BOB STAAKE's 2006 Golden Book The Red Lemon was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year. His 2008 Golden Book The Donut Chef received glowing reviews from The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly. In addition to his work with Random House, Bob's titles include Mary Had a Little Lamp (Bloomsbury), Look! A Book! (Little Brown), and Cars, Galore (Candlewick).

In addition to his work in children's publishing, Bob's illustrations have also been seen on several popular New Yorker covers, including the 11/17/08 "Reflection" cover that is officially the most popular New Yorker cover of all time. In 2008, Bob was the recipient of Time magazine's 2008 Best Magazine Cover award.

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The Red Lemon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
Instead of trying to explain why I like this book, I decided to write down what my little boy said when we first read this book: "Wow", "Beautiful", "Delicious", "Awesome", "This is wonderful." If you still want more information on why I bought this book, I could tell you how we've read this story almost every day, and usually more than once a day; how I had to hide it to write this review; how Bob Staake is my new favorite author/illustrator for the preschool set; how delectably brilliant the illustrations are; and how the quirky writing borders on ridiculous without crossing over. Or I could just let Thomas sum it up: "I love it!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sirius6 More than 1 year ago
Awesome story. A great way to share the value of being unique and how we should all take care to judge based on quality and character as opposed to appearance.