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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A World of Food, written and illustrated by Carl Warner. Abrams Books for Young Readers, Canadian Manda Group. 2012. $19.95 ages 3 and up

"If all the world were red,
The mountains would be meat,
Where rocky ribs of pork and
Cook slowly in the heat.
Upon a spiky jackfruit stone
A pepper scorpion sits
And stares across the salty plains
Of crispy bacon bits."

Today's a food day here at Sal's Fiction Addiction. The first book I want to tell you about will have children and their adults 'oohing' and 'aahing' at the deliciousness!

Carl Warner is a food photographer. Sounds simple, but there is nothing simple about the images he  created for his first book called Food Landscapes (Abrams, 2010) and then for this follow-up. Once he has solidified his vision for a new landscape, he draws it on paper. Then, he's off to the greengrocer to get all of the produce and other items needed to start to put that idea on a board to be photographed. It takes anywhere from one day to three to put it together, with the help of his food sculptor Paul Baker, and plenty of pins and glue. As Paul sculpts Carl takes photos, layering them from foreground to background, to be ultimately put together in one image when the landscape is complete.

It is an extremely interesting process as you will see in the following video:


A World of Food might best be read now while you are still full from all the holiday meals and parties that have filled stomachs and made our clothes smaller. You might not be quite so tempted by the amazing and wondrous foodscapes. The theme here is color, and you will be astounded by the work that he has done to help young children understand that concept. They number twelve and I promise you will find yourself pouring over every inch of the three-quarter spreads, with rapt attention to the many details. You will also want to play a guessing game concerning what exactly he used for each new photo.

There's a green world of broccoli, kale, cucumbers, thyme, parsley, sage, dill and even green radishes (which I have never seen, and had no idea what they were). He creates a forest of green lying alongside a mayonnaise river that spills over breadloaf rocks and under a cucumber bridge. You will have to see it to attend to the beauty of it all!

Each spread is accompanied by poetry, describing in rhyming verse the scene:

"If all the world were white,
The land would be ice cream,
with trees and rocks so cold and sweet,
Like a frozen, frosty dream.

Upon a misty mountaintop
Of fondant sugar frost,
An ice cream castle waits on high
For travelers who are lost.

Within its tall white chocolate walls
Are rooms of every size.
And pointed towers of waffle cones
Rise up into the skies."

Dreamy is right, and so 'cool'! If he has an ulterior motive, Carl Warner hopes that his book will encourage parents and children to look more charitably on the many beautiful fruits and vegetables that are available to us for our consumption.  Good eating habits begin with plants, and they are here in abundance.

After much discussion on the part of readers, as they spend inordinate amounts of time poring over these wondrous worlds, the author has provided a list for each of his constructions at the back of the book. Guess first though...that's where the fun truly is.

I will leave you with another video from CBS' Sunday Morning:

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