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The Fantastic Recipe Machine (Chihiro Takeuchi, Berbay Publishing)

Chihiro Takeuchi is a paper-cut artist and the intricate pictures in this picture book are a startling sample of her craft. The Fantastic Recipe Machine is a testament to the power of imagination. It starts off with a big black machine with many cogs, spokes, pipes and conveyor belts operated by little robots who then proceed to push along individual trays of everyday objects into its hungry maw to see what this amazing piece of technological wizardry can do. Candy canes, socks, lollies and leaves turn into colourful snakes. Yarn, cookies, brooms, oranges and brushes are transformed into a lion. It’s a fun guessing game for young readers and the ending is particularly cute (apples, bugs, stars, lollies, trains and boats are the crucial ingredients of a little boy). Large expanses of white surround the graphic artwork and the minimal text, so the picture book feels clean and neat. The objects themselves are bright and colourful and offset the black machine and its tireless minions brilliantly. Best for pre-schoolers, this book is likely to inspire them to raid the house and find odds and ends to make a creature of their own.

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue


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