cover image Still-Life Stew: Still Life Stew

Still-Life Stew: Still Life Stew

Helena Clare Pittman, Victoria Raymond. Hyperion Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0251-7

Rose's vegetable garden is a feast--first for the eyes, then for the palate. Pittman and Raymond (Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun) gather a carnival of legumes into a sedate pose (""enough to fill her flapping, empty, big, white, waiting paper""), which an aspiring artist uses as the model for her still-life painting. After Rosa completes the picture, the objets d'art turn into culinary ingredients as the girl heaves them into a simmering stew pot (""cut, dice, chop, and slice... salt, pepper, simmer, and serve""). Raymond's clay-baked sculptures add a kooky exuberance to Pittman's bright, bouncy text. The illustrations--photographs of the three-dimensional sculptures--include full-haired Rosa, with rope-like locks, surrounded by ""lopsided, flute-sided, slippy, slopey, up-and-down-sided"" peppers, ""long, lanky leeks"" and ""lumpy-tumbly, wobbly potatoes."" The cornucopia of replicated vegetables appears tantalizingly realistic in contrast to Rosa's stiff, occasionally jarring dough-shaped figure and tilted backgrounds with surreal perspectives. Pittman's mulligan of invented, tactile words is a scrumptious, if strenuous, mouthful. A recipe for Rosa's ""Still-Life Stew"" provides the finishing touch. Ages 4-8. (May)