Fun and Fruit, by María Teresa Barahona, translated by Jon Brokenbrow, illustrated by Edie Pijpers; Cuento de Luz, $16.95, 24 pages, ages 5-7.
Charlotte and Claire live in a magical world among thousands of delicious fruit-bearing trees. To pass the time, the girls choose a special color each day, and tell each other stories about their snack before eating the fruits in that hue. And so begins Fun and Fruit, a mouth-watering tale exhorting the benefits of healthy eating. María Teresa Barahona’s text retains its upbeat, bouncy feel in translation (the book was originally published in Spanish as ¡Qué divertido es comer frutas!), but, as happens sometimes with books that veer to the pedantic, some of the tales are more earnest in their message than others. For example, after the girls imagine lemons as clouds, they ask their cousins to fashion an apple-shaped ball to keep soldiers busy at soccer instead of fighting. Other, better, fruity stories inspire the girls to heal the sick and be good friends. Despite a few missteps, Fun and Fruit isn’t overly heavy, and may very well find its place as a tool to help children understand their feelings. Since most Cuento de Luz’s publications are originally in Spanish, some of their titles (like Fun and Fruit) seem like natural fits for language instruction – a peppering of words for colors and fruits would have been perfectly at home in this book.
The art is a feast for the eyes. Dutch artist Edie Pijpers’ paintings are saturated with mouth-watering melons, figs, and coconuts, while her renditions of smiling, caring children are reminiscent of Helen Oxenbury’s full-faced and joyous cherubs.