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Food for Thought

Lunch Hour NYC: Lunch by Denise Fleming


With the upcoming NYPL exhibit Lunch Hour NYC on the horizon, we can look forward to an in-depth look at the world of cafeterias, Automats, workers' lunches, lunch at home (including tenements), school and charity lunches, and power lunches too. Kids will get a glimpse of lunch in all its myriad forms, and we've whipped together a booklist of lunch-related titles they'll really enjoy. Today, let's examine one of those books for kids on the younger end of the scale. Have a toddler or preschooler who won't touch their food? Introduce them to this omnivorous rodent with tummy filling on his mind in Denise Fleming's magnificent (and strikingly beautiful) Lunch.

A small mouse sniffs curiously out of his hole. His little arms reach yearningly off to the side. Oh boy is he hungry. Quick as a wink he climbs up the nearest black and white checked tablecloth and proceeds to eat every beautifully colored fruit and vegetable he sees beginning with a purple turnip, moving onto an orange carrot, yellow corn, etc. As the little mouse eats (and his aplomb and enthusiasm are highly addictive) he covers himself more and more with particles of the foods devoured. By the end of the story the author includes a picture of the now completely multi-colored mouse with helpful notations as to what each item on his person is. Reading the artist's statement, I didn't realize right off the bat that just as the mousey's food items change color, so too does the background of each and every scene. Additionally, the tablecloth itself is a calming black and white, ably setting off the mouse and his gluttonous rampage.

When you first hear how artist Denise Fleming went about creating the pictures for this book your initial reaction is something along the lines of, "Whaaaa?". Check out a hardcover copy of this book you will see that the book flap goes into incredible detail describing Fleming's asrtistic process. Suffice to say, no paint or brushes created so much as a page of art in this book. Instead, each image is a meticulously hand-crafted process called "pulp painting" that results in handmade paper art. You can learn more about her process here.

As Publishers Weekly said, of the book, "Fleming's pulp painting technique drenches each page with vibrant hues." Kirkus agreed saying, "With large areas of brilliant, subtly modulated color and handsome compositions incorporating boldface type, a beautifully crafted book that's sure to delight young audiences." It's big. It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's for kids anwhere between the ages of 1-5. Go on and check it out today.

Be sure to check out the author's website for a list of different activites you can do in conjunction with the book.


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