A Smorange Kind of Book

h1 July 11th, 2017 by jules


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“The illustrations in this book were rendered in fruit.”

That’s the illustration note on the copyright page of Adam Rex’s newest picture book, Nothing Rhymes with Orange (Chronicle), coming to shelves in early August. (Even better: The copyright page info is all laid out as if on grocery receipts.) See the cover here? The apple and strawberry and blackberry and blueberries are stealing the show, proud as they are of their rhyming natures, but Orange is muttering, “So I guess I’ll just stand over here then.” What rhymes with orange after all?

An exuberant group of fruit-friends starts layin’ down some fruit rhymes in this very funny book: “Hit the beach in your cabana with a peach or a banana” is but one of the catchy rhymes. You may sometimes feel afraid of The Rhyming Picture Book, because in the hands of lesser authors, there can exist some sing-song rhyme-mangling that feels like an assault to one’s senses. But no worries. That is not this book.

Orange can be seen on the sidelines. Orange is unassuming, to say the least. Maybe has some self-esteem issues. Definitely engaging in some self-pity. “Hey, are you guys going to need me for this book?” Orange asks amidst all the rhyming, with maybe a bit too much hope, on the banana page.



 



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It’s when we get to the antelope page (where antelope is rhymed with cantaloupe) that the mopey-ness of Orange turns into a bit of self-defensive peevishness: “Well, that [rhyme] was a little forced,” Orange says. Then, a quince shows up. And a lychee. And a book by Friedrich Nietzsche. Orange thinks this is pushin’ it and that an orange should be in the book, instead of Nietzsche, even if nothing rhymes with orange. “This book’s sorta gone off the rails,” Orange notes when a pear becomes a pearwolf after meeting a wolf at night, though soon after that, Orange changes course again, declaring the book is great. Here comes another moment of self-despair.

 



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In the end, the fruits, led by Apple, devise a word that rhymes with orange and even share its meaning, though I can hardly give that away. (Perhaps there’s a hint in this post’s title.) It’s a sweet and jubilant moment, complete with Nietzsche.

This is a book for the sweet spot that is, say, third- to fifth-graders, who have seen enough rhyming picture book texts to know when they’ve been subverted. I think they will get a massive kick out of this. Also, Nietzsche fans.

 


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And, despite that illustration note, these are actually photographs of fruit (and Nietzsche) onto which Adam draws faces and limbs. (During the course of typing this post, I’ve absolutely nailed the spelling of Nietzsche.) Needless to say, given the wide range of fruits here, it’s a colorful book, and there’s even a rainbow at the end.

Orange you glad I’m not abusing any fruit puns in this post? (Kirkus wins for calling this book “fruitful in every sense of the word”). Indeed, it’s very fun and smart, and Adam Rex—as he does in all of his books, and as he does when he speaks with children (I’ve seen it at more than one book festival)—gets right on their level and looks them squarely in the eye. No talking down.

And that is peachy. (Sorry. Can’t help it.)

p.s. Don’t forget to take off the book jacket and take a look at the cover.

* * * * * * *

NOTHING RHYMES WITH ORANGE. Copyright © 2017 by Adam Rex. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

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2 comments to “A Smorange Kind of Book”

  1. This looks like such fun. Very clever indeed. You’re a peach! 🙂


  2. Fruit AND philosophy? Nice mix!

    To the people who try to tell me “door hinge” rhymes with “orange” – No.


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