Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. Scholastic/Levine, $15.95 ISBN 0-439-10431-9

Photos of scowling oranges and gregarious scallions garnish this garden of delights from the authors of Play with Your Food. The recipe is simple and successful. Freymann and Elffers find a piece of 'expressive produce' and attach two black-eyed peas for eyes. Without further ado, the veggie becomes a face, with a knobby stem or skinny root for a schnozzola; an upended mushroom has a hilarious piglike snout, while a kiwifruit has a button nose. The animated groceries are exhibited, actual size or larger, against crisp hues of harvest gold, melon green or late-night-sky blue. Their groupings imply close relationships: lemons trade meaningful glances and a little onion cries. Meanwhile, the rhyming text draws comparisons between the emotive plant and its audience when it queries, 'Wired? Tired? Need a kiss?/ Do you know anyone like this?' The plotless and largely superfluous narrative recommends expressing jealousy or affection ('When how you feel is understood,/ you have a friend, and that feels good'). It's a sentiment as healthy as an apple a day, but the book's real charm is derived from the almost-ready-made 'sculptures'--as an afterword calls them. This wish-I'd-thought-of-that compendium provides an excellent impetus for a craft session: the ingredients are cheap, and mistakes can be eaten as salad (if artists have the heart). All ages. (Oct.)