Working as a children's bookseller for almost 20 years, I saw my fair share of picture books about underwear and most elicited an eye roll or a sigh from me. Occasionally I would crack one open in the hopes it was a winner only to be disappointed. Reading Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman, which is a winner, I realized where other similarly themed books went wrong. Most books make a joke of underwear and the underwear wearer rather than presenting this item of clothing as the daily part of life that it is, which is exactly what Chapman does, and finding humor elsewhere.
Chapman brings silly and smiles to Vegetables in Underwear with his cast of vegetables, which assembles on the endpapers - fully clothed at the start of the book and in their underwear at the end. Broccoli, who disrobes in the pages that lead up to the start of the book, is a fantastic main character and I wish I could find an image of him trying to take off his shirt, forcing it over his florets, which is hilarious. Once he's down to his drawers, Broccoli begins his sing-songy story.
Basic, I know, but it's pretty darn funny to see a potato in an ill-fitting pair of undies. While I am always game for a good underwear book, there is one thing that I think can be especially valuable in a truly great underwear book - the ability to convince toddlers on the verge (or in the thick) of potty training that wearing underwear is SO COOL! Vegetables in Underwear is perfectly poised to do this. Broccoli tells us that there is underwear for big kids and for babies, then pauses, realizing that, "babies don't wear underwear. Babies wear diapers! Sorry, babies." The baby corn and baby carrot in the illustration are, of course, crying upon hearing this.
Chapman ends Vegetables in Underwear by telling readers that the "best part about underwear is . . . you can wear it anywhere!" The final page, showing Broccoli dressed and running outside to play, reminds readers to, "Just remember to put your clothes on top." And, while you and your little ones read Vegetables in Underwear, be sure to look for the pea, who likes to go streaking, and page 11, which Chapman claims is autobiographical!
Source: Review Copy