Word of Mouth
Worried radish, troubled turnip: Authors give feelings to food
December 17, 1999
By Wendy Wolfenbarger
"How Are You Peeling?"
(CNN) -- In the minds of Sexton Freymann and Joost Elffers, an orange is grumpy, a pepper comforts a tomato, a radish cries, a kiwi laughs.
Armed with imagination and a sharp knife, the two have given personalities to vegetables, feelings to fruits and made food just plain fun.
"What's great about food is that it keeps all of the photos fun -- whether it's grouchy, sad, angry -- they remain playful," says Freymann, the one who carves the food. "The food characters are really perfect to talk about emotions with kids."
Freymann and Elffers -- respectively a sculptor-painter and a book publisher -- first gave such expressive life to food with their best-selling book, "Play With Your Food," in 1997 and its follow-up, "Play With Your Pumpkins," a year later.
In their new collaboration, "How Are You Peeling?" (Scholastic Press), the authors aim for kids with a book that features fruits and veggies looking more than just happy or sad -- their "faces" suggest a range of emotions, from pensive and persuasive to elated and frightened.
Do some vegetables seem naturally happier than others? Not usually, Freymann says. "There is a pretty even split. For every angry pepper or angry orange, there's a grinning one."
It doesn't take much to give foods faces -- Freymann is armed with just an Exacto knife, black-eyed peas for eyes and possibly lemon juice to keep biodegradable teeth nice and white.
"There's so much detail in the natural material that if you're sensitive to the texture and the curves and the shapes, all you have to do is find certain clues and then you just bring them out by doing as little as you can," he says.
Future projects for the Freymann and Elffers include the story of a little vegetable seahorse and another book on pumpkins for fall.
Have the two ever explored food beyond vegetables, like playing with a pot roast?
"The vegetable world is our world," Elffers says.
"Once you get into meat, you kind of cross that line," Freymann says. "That food actually was a character at one point."
Are you dreaming of a book Christmas?
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