Do you feel silly? Safe? Shy? Saxton Freeman and Joost Elffers sculpted facial expressions into fruits and vegetables to communicate a wide range of emotions in How Are You Peeling? Fruits with Moods. Using an Exacto knife and natural materials like black-eyed peas and beet-juice coloring, the authors enhanced the natural wrinkles, bends and creases in produce to illustrate emotions. The sculptures, photographed against plain but colorful backgrounds, are large and vivid, allowing the youngest readers to easily identify the emotions depicted. Beginning with the opening question, “How are you feeling?”, the text goes on to asks questions that will provoke thought in listeners: “Feeling blue? Feeling bad? How are you when friends drop by? With someone new… a little shy?” The text is brightly colored and small, letting the produce’s expressions speak for them; this is a book meant to be read aloud and to prompt discussion. The New York Times Book Review voted How Are You Peeling? Best Illustrated Children’s Book in 1999.
The book lends itself to a read-aloud about feelings, where patrons can call out answers to the questions asked in the book and identify the emotions portrayed on the featured produce. Activities can include songs about feelings like “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, and craft ideas include a facial expressions printable to color, or, for older (3-4) participants, the chance to draw different expressions that answer the question, “How are you feeling?”