Off To The Market

I was lucky to review this gorgeous new illustrated picture book from Scribble, Off To The Market, written and illustrated by Alice Oehr.

I remember as a child, loving going to Victoria Market on a Sunday and finding the produce and the people wondrous.

So when I read Alice’s book, it brought back some special memories.

Off To The Market, is a little unusual in that the text and illustrations start from the very first page so readers are met with a burst of colour and interest as soon as they open the cover. And right from that first moment, I loved the diversity of race age and life stages reflected in the vibrant illustrations.

In a charming and colourful way, Off To The Market, goes through all the things you’ll need for a day at the market – money, a list and something to carry your purchases. I love the environmentally friendly options given.

Young readers are introduced to different types of produce and the fact that there’s more than one kind of potato and that fruit and vegetables don’t have to be pristine and perfectly shaped to taste good.

Alice Oehr takes us through a fascinating journey of fruit and vegetables and what they can be used for.

We’re also introduced to all the different store holders and we see the differences in how they present and prepare their wares.

There are fascinating facts about different types of eggs. I learned that each chicken will lay the same colour egg every time.

This beautiful non fiction-book is a feast of colour, introducing readers to the market experience and homegrown produce in a fun and interesting way.

I also like the way the shopping list appears regularly with the purchased items crossed out – a fun activity that readers can do as they walk around the market.

Off To The Market really is a ‘celebration of markets, cooking, and fresh food.’

Off To The Market, is written and illustrated by Alice Oehr and she has stopped by the blog to answer some questions

What is your favourite part of going to the market and your favourite purchase?

I love the array of colour at the market– so my favourite thing is really the feast for the eyes. I love chatting to people about what’s in season, and making a plan for cooking with it. My favourite thing to purchase is something that may only be in season for a brief time and is therefore a bit special – a custard apple, persimmons, figs.

What was the most fun thing about writing and illustrating this book?

I loved putting my experience of visiting the market each week onto the page– the people I see and know, and all the beautiful fresh produce was a joy to draw. Incorporating a fluro orange ink into my work was heaps of fun too.

What was the most challenging part of writing and illustrating this book?

It was hard to know which season to situate the book in, as I wanted to show a range of Summer & Winter veggies. 

How long did it take you?

I worked on this book over a couple of years; slowed down during the pandemic. The idea and text came early, but I took my time working out exactly what parts of the market I wanted to include and finding the right visual style. 

What do you hope readers will take away from it?

I would love it if young readers could foster a relationship with fresh produce, and the people who grow and sell it. Shopping for and preparing your own food is a lifelong pleasure and I think it’s great to start learning about it young!

Alice is a graphic artist from Melbourne. Her distinct colourful style incorporates her love of food, pattern, collage and drawing. Many of her ideas have made their way into textiles, homewares, magazines and books. Off To The Market is her first children’s book.

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