Humorous Picture Books:
Play With Your Food!

Humorous picture books that make food fun
Three children's book reviews by P.J. Rooks

  • How are you Peeling? Foods with Moods
  • Dog Food
  • Knock Knock

Zany Fun for the Little One: Three Wacky Books featuring Saxton Freymann

How are you Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

Why say it with flowers when you could say it with fruit? The next time your kids are feeling the need to express themselves with food, you might steer them in the direction of Saxton Freymann, the wacky sculptor-at-large who prowls the farmer's markets of New York with an Exacto knife and a wild imagination.

Pouting peppers, outraged oranges, lonely lemons and rebel radishes fill the pages of this organic overview of emotions. What would make an orange mischievous? What do onions do when they cry? You’ll find all that and more with Saxton Freymann’s vegetables that never go bad -- well, at least not in the usual sense.

cropped image from How Are You Peeling?

How are you Peeling? Foods with Moods was awarded the Best Illustrated Children's Book award by the New York Times Book Review back in 1999 when it first hit the shelves. A simple rhyme accompanies the text, though the faces of the fruits and veggies featured here are so uncannily clear in their expressions that it really isn't necessary to explain.

Also by Saxton Freymann, don’t miss Dog Food. Packed with beta-carotene, this picnic of puppy parlance is sure to be a healthy feast for young eyes.

In his fruity creations, Freymann presents a play on words -- “dog catcher,” for example, depicts a green pepper-carved Dachshund catching a Frisbee and “dog show” has a broccoli poodle watching television with a couple of pals.

Though my daughter was thoroughly enchanted, I did have to explain some of the expressions, so, while the word play may add to the humor for slightly older kids, the younger ones will still delight in the many silly dog creations.

Other fun food books by Saxton Freymann include Fast Food, Food For Thought, Baby Food and Dr. Pompo’s Nose.

And speaking of Saxton Freymann, here’s another humorous picture book that’s sure to have your little one squirming with glee.

Knock, Knock! is a compilation of jokes by several different artists, starting with our vegetarian extraordinaire, Saxton Freymann.

The jokes -- and what kid doesn’t love knock, knock jokes? -- are accompanied by whimsical illustrations from each of the artists. Green aliens encounter multi-eyed extra-terrestrials, a little girl eats a whole cake and busts right through the seams of her skirt and a huge wildebeest sits down to dinner in a fine restaurant.

One of my favorites (by artist Chris Raschka) was --

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Verdi who?
Verdi vild tings are!”

Additionally, the showcasing of each artist’s style in Knock, Knock! might give some clues as to which children's book illustrators your child favors.

Who’s included and what have they done? The back of the book gives a quick introduction to each artist, but here, in a nutshell, are their names along with one of their other works:

Saxton Freymann -- see above

Jon J. Muth -- Zen Shorts

Sophie Blackall -- Ruby’s Wish

Tomie dePaola -- Now One Foot, Now the Other

Boris Kulikov -- Max’s Words

Laurie Keller -- The Scrambled States of America

Chris Raschka -- The Hello, Goodbye Window

David Small -- So You Want to Be President?

Yumi Heo -- Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding

Judy Schachner -- Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble

Brett Helquist -- A Series of Unfortunate Events

Henry Cole -- Naughty Little Monkeys

Peter H. Reynolds -- The Dot

Dan Yaccarino -- Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I’m Off to the Moon!

Fun for the whole family, Foods with Moods, Dog Food and Knock, Knock! are sure to open the doors to joke-filled car rides and a fresh, new (and rather unusual) attitude about the produce aisle. In fact, check out all Saxton Freymann's humorous picture books.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

New! Comments

Have your say!

Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.

Picky eating is a real problem!

More books about healthy eating

Show your reviewer some