- Alien Tomato by Kristen Schroeder
Schroeder, Kristen Alien Tomato; illus. by Mette Engell. Page Street, 2020 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781624149764 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-6 yrs
When a spherical object falls from the sky and lands in the vegetable garden, the vegetables come to an obvious conclusion—it's an alien tomato. The alien tomato does not speak to them, however, and they choose "a friendly approach" to be safe, inviting the ball to tea parties, naming her Allie, and making her a flower crown, against Gopher's protests that the alien tomato is just an inanimate toy ball. Fed up with the vegetables' antics (and jealous of the attention Allie receives), Gopher steals her and hides her in his burrow—until the red ball sprouts leaves and a face and is beamed back to the mothership. This readaloud is a creative play on expectations, using Gopher as a stand-in character for kids who will also think the vegetables have let their imaginations run away with them. Digital art that emulates brushstrokes gives the expressive vegetables some texture, livening each page in fresh garden colors with Gopher ever on the opposing side. Though the premise is deliciously silly, kids may also be encouraged to treat something (or someone) they don't understand with respect after witnessing Gopher thoroughly embarrass himself.