cover image Brave Potatoes

Brave Potatoes

Toby Speed. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23158-2

The team behind Two Cool Cows returns in this remarkable veggie opera. After dark at the county fair's produce display, strange things are afoot: ""All the prize potatoes with their eyes wide open/ topple to the hard-knocky floor/ and one potato, two potato, three potato, four/ head for the creak-cracky door."" As complacent pumpkins and watermelons snooze, the spuds gallop into the moonlight and climb aboard a carnival ride, the Zip (whose name conveniently rhymes with ""chip""). Meanwhile, in a nearby industrial kitchen full of steaming, gleaming copper kettles, Hackemup the chef whacks unfortunate onions, peppers and tomatoes--""But he hasn't got potatoes./ No, he hasn't got potatoes."" Speed sets up a wicked confrontation between Hackemup and the innocent tubers, and the aptly named Root paints the midnight showdown with gusto. The collaborators present the unusual material without irony, and Root carefully portrays the russet red and Yukon gold heroes in all sizes, with unique personalities blazing in their beady little eyes. The intrepid potatoes stage a real grassroots campaign against The Man, and they ultimately march down the street chanting, ""We will never be potpie./ We will never be potluck./ We will never be frittata./ We will always be potatoes."" This poetically phrased and oddly poignant tale might make a good companion to Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers's How Are You Peeling?, another omen of a budding potato-liberation movement. Ages 4-8. (May)