cover image Oliver's Vegetables

Oliver's Vegetables

Vivian French. Orchard Books (NY), $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09462-4

Even french-fry-aholics can enjoy fresh vegetables, according to this optimistic tale of a boy and his adventures in produce. When Oliver spends a week at his grandfather's house, he makes a deal: ``If you want french fries,'' said Grandpa, ``You must find the potatoes. If you find something else, you eat that and no complaints.'' Oliver digs in Grandpa's garden and finds carrots, rhubarb, and cabbage, but no potatoes. Yet he never mutinies-quite the opposite, in fact (``They had spinach for supper. `That was good,' said Oliver''). French (A Song for Little Toad) makes an enthusiastic effort, and perhaps agreeable readers will accept her try-it-you'll-like-it approach. But when Oliver pronounces beet salad ``Very, very, very good,'' even certain adults may raise an eyebrow. But debut illustrator Bartlett makes the lush, leafy plants look eminently palatable in her sunny, full-spread acrylics. Her splendid varieties of green and her broad strokes of paint-piled layer-on-layer, with details like the outlines of flowers scratched on the surfaces-set the stage for a garden's victory rather than just a victory garden. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)