cover image Little Sweet Potato

Little Sweet Potato

Amy Beth Bloom, illus. by Noah Z. Jones. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-180439-7

Like the bird in P.D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother?, the vegetable hero of adult author Bloom’s first children’s book is also trying to get home—and the world at large is even more hostile in this outing. When Little Sweet Potato is accidentally tossed out of his garden patch and into the road, he rolls along trying to find where he belongs. As he is rebuffed by eggplants, flowers, and squash that keep to their own kind (the carrots tell him he’s “lumpy, dumpy, and—we have to say it—you’re bumpy”), he realizes that he “didn’t know the world had such mean vegetation in it.” Eventually, Little Sweet Potato finds a place where he fits in—because everyone does; Jones’s bold cartoons portray the vegetables, fruits, flowers, and fungi in Hodge-Podge Patch with wide eyes and manic grins. The ending has just enough drollery (“It’s not all mulch and sunshine out there,” says an eggplant) to leaven the story’s didactic message about diversity. Ages 4–7. Agent: Jennifer Walsh, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis. (Sept.)