A strange, silly and exceptionally enjoyable picture book set in the wacky world of Food Town. You’d be nuts to miss it!
Nancy McNutty is a peanut butter sandwich. She lives in Food Town (which looks remarkably like New York City in the pictures, only inhabited by all types of food). Nancy is a trainee reporter and she’s chasing the story of a lifetime. Her inside sauce in the Lemon Labs has informed her that something has gone very wrong with one of Professor Nutcase’s experiments. By the time Nancy arrives it’s too late – a monstrous Doughnut has escaped into the city and he’s eating everything and everyone including: the sugary cakes and cookies who form the police; the super spicy chillies, peppers and tacos who make up the fire service; and even the vegetables who act as Food Town’s military. It looks like no one is safe. That’s when Nancy decides it’s time to stop reporting the action and to, instead, become part of it.
This has to be one of the strangest, silliest and most enjoyable picture books I’ve ever read. I was gripped from the moment I opened the book and had my first encounter with Food Town. Even before I’d reached the start of the story, I was giggling at the illustrations of this wacky world. (The book opens onto a double page spread that includes a theatre presenting ‘Ham-Let’ starring Michael Gammon and an advert for the next production – A Midsummer Ice Cream! The following page includes pictures of stripped mug trying to steal a handbag with the caption ‘Help! A mugger!’ and protesting eggs with signs such as ‘It’s No Yoke!’)
The rest of the book continues in this style. There is a central storyline leading us through the book with a clear beginning, middle and end but I doubt many will be able to read the book in this way. This is because practically every page is packed with additional speech bubbles that develop the story further and make the book feel more like a comic than a traditional picture book.
It’s all very American which would normally annoy me but, in this case, I simply didn’t care. Children will enjoy the silliness and there’s plenty to amuse the adults too. Younger children will probably enjoy the bright, vibrant pictures – not to mention the very child-orientated twist (sorry I can’t tell you more) – while older children are likely to enjoy reading this for themselves.
This is a part of a series of books by Elys Dolan so, if you enjoyed this, you might want to check out Weasels or Nuts in Space. Alternatively, for another food themed fantastical story, why not try Don’t Eat Pete! by Sue Walker and Carlo Beranek.
Publication date: August 2019
Publisher: Nosy Crow
NOTE: I wrote this review based on my reaction to reading this book. When I went to copy my review to other websites (including Amazon), I discovered the book is very divisive with a split between 5- and 1-star reviews. The 1-star reviews revolve around the fact that Nancy is a peanut butter sandwich and these readers strongly feel that the plot trivialises nut allergies. I have to say that this never struck me when reading the book and, for me, Nancy could have been any type of food and the plot would still have worked. (I assumed it was around the Doughnut eating too much rather than anything to do with the fact that Nancy contained peanuts). However, on reflection, I can see that some people could take offence so this you may not want to buy this book for families with members who have allergies.