Gus and Buttons

by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers, Arther A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press, 2001, New York

Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers challenge the old saw; that you’re not supposed to play with your food. They’ve played with plenty!

Against a series of beautifully photographed environments composed entirely of fruits and vegetables, Gus, a somewhat bored young mushroom, and his dog Buttons leave their beige world at the behest of the serendipitous arrival of some green thing that suddenly lands at their feet.

This lyrically told tale, which does not shy away from larger-than-usual picture book words  like inedible and cornucopia, is a great opportunity to  identify with a young child a huge variety of fruits and vegetables;  while celebrating the  value of keeping an open mind, AND remaining visually aware.

Gus and Button

Activity: Gus and Buttons is a great opportunity to simply identify fruits and vegetables. Take Gus and Buttons to the market. Can your child match the fruits and vegetables from the book with those they see at the market? Prepare some of the vegetables in the book and explore different ways to prepare them; raw, fried, baked or stewed; grated, chopped or pureed. And then, of course, see how they taste.

Gus and Buttons is also an excellent opportunity to launch into a variety of arts activities. See how many different environments children can create with a selected amount of fruits and vegetables, using real food or picture cut outs. Even assembling a “still life” for them to draw can engage their awareness of the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables.


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