cover image Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale

Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale

Henrik Drescher, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1992-3

Like Chris Raschka in Arlene Sardine , Drescher (Pat the Beastie ) personalizes meat-eating in this nightmarish tale of a herbivore with piggy hooves and a twisty tail. Hubert the pudge has a cartoonish human face, lavender horns and a curled, ribbony nose like something from Edward Lear. In the cover image, Drescher's most effective condemnation of the carnivore's dilemma, Hubert looks pop-eyed and frightened; his body is diagrammed with dotted lines that chart his "brisket," "ribs" and "chops." He is raised in a dim, cramped stall on Farmer Jake's Pudge Processing Farm, where "pudges never got a chance to fully grow up. While they were still young,... they were processed into TV dinners, microwave sausage links, and other greasy food products." While this is a fair assessment of the pork and veal industries, Hubert's story becomes an idealistic fantasy (like the similar-themed Henrietta and the Golden Eggs ): the heroic porker escapes, hatches a plan to free the pudges and confronts Farmer Jake, who repents, changes his diet and becomes a healthy tofu entrepreneur. With his messy ink-stippling and bruised watercolor palette, Drescher is a master of excessive grotesquery. He deals in pathos rather than solutions, although this might be read alongside Chew on This. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)