Combining fruits, vegetables, and the Word of God, Christel Decker Bresko presents an unusual collection of stories in her children’s book, Dreamland: Fruits and Veggies.
These seven stories, presented in illustrated chapters, revolve around different fruit and vegetable characters as they discuss their place in life and their ultimate creator, God. In the first two stories, for example, a strawberry, watermelon, and cucumber bear witness to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden; another story features a young pineapple discussing “ananas,” another name for the fruit, and the missionaries that brought them to Hawaii.
Several Bible stories are quoted or referred to, with an overall purpose of helping the produce accept their Earthly fates and look to an afterlife, as when a proselytizing peach introduces Jesus to a group of nectarines destined to become preserves: “I smiled and said, ‘Please repeat after me: The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.’ ‘Thank you, thank you, Juicy Peach! Now we are all going to heaven.’”
Although the casting of fruits and vegetables is an interesting idea for a children’s religious book, the fundamental role of humans as consumers of these characters could be confusing or even disturbing to young readers, as when the above-mentioned peach meets her fate: “They picked me and devoured me with much pleasure.”
The book is also marred by frequent misspellings and organizational problems. For example, a story called “Russet Potato” follows a family of russet potatoes for a page and a half, before suddenly transitioning to a completely unrelated story about bananas. And while the illustrations are expressive and colorful, they are placed in an order that doesn’t match the text (i.e., an image of a boy cutting bananas from a tree comes several pages after the associated text, as part of a different story about a peach).
An intriguing concept flawed in execution, Dreamland: Fruits and Veggies requires revision before it can find an eager audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.