The Mighty Asparagus

There's an oft-reinterpreted russian folk tale about a big turnip, and lots of people try to pull it out, etc. etc. The titular Mighty Asparagus of this book is an obvious descendant of the russian turnip, but the brilliantly off-kilter style and tone of Vladimir Radunsky provide a wonderful new spin on the otherwise warmed-over folk tale that is eccentric and quite silly.

Radunsky uses famous renaissance paintings as visual fodder (and includes thanks and an apology to each pillaged artist in his dedication), and the result is a unique combination of rich texture and cross-eyed goofiness that overshadows (in a good way) whatever the parable is supposed to be about (even the smallest effort counts).

My 3-year-old son adores this book, especially the Ballad of the Mighty Asparagus at the end, but if you have a child who is into order, they may be a bit dismayed by the centerfold-style pullout of the fallen asparagus. Should that have had a spoiler warning?

Also, don't miss Radunsky's Manneken Pis, the simple story of a boy who peed on a war.