4 out of 4 stars
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Four Funny Potatoes by Len Foley is a children’s picture book about a group of potatoes who sleep during the day and put on a show with other foods at night. The catch is one of the potatoes is not a potato. Benny, the fourth “potato,” is actually a banana and keeps telling everyone so, although his protests are pretty much ignored. Can this yellow piece of fruit convince the others he is unique?
This hilarious, in-your-face story is told completely in rhyme. In most cases, each page contains two lines that rhyme. The text is accompanied by contemporary illustrations that will immediately put a smile on your face and even make you laugh out loud. The artwork looks like photos of potatoes, bananas, and other items which are enhanced with human characteristics. For example, arms, feet, and a cute bowtie are added to a photo of a sandwich. The overall effect is very appealing, especially with such oversized, up-close pictures.
The use of different whimsical and colorful fonts is a good fit with this fun story. The only negative I can see is the very large, brightly-colored words, coupled with the close-up illustrations, could be off-putting when read as a bedtime story. It might be a better choice to read during a time of day when you want kids to be alert and pay attention. Still, there is something to be said for having a child think happy thoughts before going to sleep. This is certainly a story that screams “happy.”
There is a distinct plot within all the silliness as well as a creative, slightly irreverent ending. Some components of the story could be considered over-the-top and distracting. For younger children, the effect might be overwhelming. Still, children love reading the same books over and over, so I assume they would be less distracted with repeated readings.
The author’s jokes in this story are intelligently written. Some of the jokes relate to the shape of the particular food items. For example, when the characters are told to run for their lives, a donut says, “I can’t run! I don’t have any feet!” In response, a tomato tells the donut, “Then maybe you should roll.”
This book has easily earned 4 out of 4 stars. It is a supremely entertaining read that would be a great addition to any child’s bookshelf, although the target audience appears to be ages 3-8. Even children younger than 3 years old would enjoy looking at the colorful, wacky pictures. I can see this story as a good choice for storytime at school, since it contains a few short, fun songs and a universal lesson. Teachers and their students would certainly gain a few laughs to brighten their day.
Four Funny Potatoes!
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