Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Nothing Rhymes with Orange Book Poster Image
Lots of fruity fun in rhyming tale of fruit and friendship.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Names of various fruits, including some more unusual ones like fig, kiwi, quince. Rhyming sounds. Promotes fruits: "They're healthy, happy, colorful, and cute."

Positive Messages

Sometimes we feel left out and it's OK to express that. If you're on the inside of a friend circle, and someone else is on the outside, it's good to bring him or her in. Rhyming is fun!

Positive Role Models & Representations

Orange expresses his feelings directly when he feels left out. Apple notices that Orange is alone and brings Orange into the friendship circle, showering him with (rhyming) affection, celebrating him, and showing him appreciation.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nothing Rhymes with Orange is by Adam Rex, who has often distinguished himself as a very clever author (School's First Day of School) and as an equally clever illustrator (The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors), and who here wears both very funny hats. In this rhyming book about fruit, lots of fruits are celebrated in rhyme, except for Orange, since as every lyricist and picture book writer knows, "Nothing rhymes with orange." The couplets are great, silly fun, but there's an emotional component as well, as Orange feels more and more left out and deflated, and Apple notices, coming up with a nonsense rhyme to include Orange and bring him into the fold.

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What's the story?

NOTHING RHYMES WITH ORANGE is a juicy mix of rhymes about various fruits, with forlorn Orange commenting from the sidelines, since nothing rhymes with orange. The other fruits are having lots of fun. We see a surfing banana in "Hit the beach in your cabana with a peach and a banana." And superhero grapes appear in the verse "And these grapes are wearing capes because they’re SUPER good to eat." At first, Orange tries to insert himself into the fun. "Hey, are you guys going to need me for this book?... I'll be back here if you need me." But as the rhymes get sillier, he starts to sulk. "Well, that was a little forced." And when the book introduces a "pearwolf" and even Nietzsche (slotted into a rhyme), he despairs. "This book's sorta gone off the rails." Observant Apple notices Orange is alone, and makes up a rhyme involving the made-up word "smorange," thus inviting Orange to join in the fruity fun.

Is it any good?

This book is a romp of a rhyming party serving up a big fruity word salad, and though Orange isn't initially included since he doesn't rhyme, kids and parents are invited for the fun. Readers are always in good hands with author-illustrator Adam Rex, who goes all-out in Nothing Rhymes with Orange. The fruits in the art are photo-realistic, making them easily recognizable for kids just learning the differences, and Rex draws expressive faces and arms and legs to animate them. There's lots of wordplay: A pear that gets bitten by a wolf becomes a "pearwolf." And the book gets sillier and sillier with each page, even including a joke referencing Nietzsche, making sure adults feel included, too: "I think cherries are 'the berries' and a lychee is just peachy. Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a book by Friedrich Nietzsche."

Adding to the fun are the snide comments by Orange, who observes dejectedly from the sidelines. "This book's sorta gone off the rails. I'm glad I'm not a part of it." But Rex also has a warm heart, and makes sure we feel for Orange as he grows more and more disheartened. Kids will recognize the feelings and cheer when another fruit notices and pulls him into the festivities. This book is both silly and a warm story about feelings and friendship, making it a very fun party indeed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the different fruits in Nothing Rhymes with Orange. Which ones did you know about and which ones are new to you? Which are your favorites?

  • Have you ever felt like Orange, left out and alone? What made you feel better or brought you back into the group? Did someone help you? Have you ever helped to include others?

  • What parts of the book are the funniest? What are the funniest parts in the text? In the art?

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