Gus and his dog Button live in a beige monochromatic town made entirely of mushrooms where life seems very dull and boring.  When something bright green drops into the town during a storm, Gus decides to go out into the artichoke Howling Forest that surrounds his town to find out where bright things can grow.  Taking Button with him, Gus loses his way but is saved by Belle the  pepper, Cecil the orange. and Pip the apple who lead them to the city Cornucopia that is filled with bright colors, parsley trees, cucumber cars, and cherry ants. In the midst of all the color they find the mother of their bright green baby pea and return their charge to its mother.   Returning home, Gus tells his many neighbors “that to really see what’s our there, you need more than open eyes”…when “I keep an open mind, “EVERYWHERE I look I am surprised by what I find.” 

The story is delightful but the illustrations steal the show.  Notes on an end page list the 60 different vegetables and fruits shown in the pictures and explains that each one was carved and photographed separately.  The photographs were then scanned and collaged together on a computer to create the wonderful images we see.  Some of the most delightful results were the broccoli poodle, the leek tower with starfruit dome, and the Greek temple with celery columns and mushroom cap capitals.  Even Gus is a masterpiece of mushroom construction with his two mushroom body joined top to top with a stem head,  split stem legs, and enoki mushroom arms.  Written for children 4 and older, the rhyming text is simple and has a steady rhythm but be prepared for many interruptions as youngsters stop to examine all the fabulous fruits and vegetables in their new and imaginative forms.

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By Karen