The Vegetable Ark, by Kim Kane & Sue deGennaro

It is not well known that Noah had a brother.
But he did,
and his name was Neil.
Noah and Neil were very different.

The story of Noah and his ark is well known. Less is known of his early life. Kim Kane introduces the reader to Neil, Noah’s vegetarian brother. Both work hard, but they are very different, not just physically. Noah competes successfully at both things, and becomes a ‘fat cat’ wheeling and dealing and living well. Meanwhile Neil is more of a dreamer, happy to spend his days with his plants, smelling the beans. When Noah tells him about the coming rains and invites him to join the Ark, Neil responds, but not quite the way Noah expects. Illustrations in this large landscape format hardback are a mix of collage, pencil and paint. Images are set in white space and often float on the page. Endpapers are a cross between a weather map and endless rain.

If you ever wondered where Noah’s dove discovered the olive branch that she brought back to Noah, then wonder no more. It came from Neil’s tree. Neil, who was quiet and largely unnoticeable in his life, certainly when compared with his corporate brother Noah, triumphs. Where Noah seeks to corner the market in food supplies, Neil’s aim in saving all the vegetables is much simpler. He knows that any post-flood world will need vegetables. Noah wants Neil to come aboard the ark, they are still brothers, but Neil as always is doing things his own quiet way. There are plenty of themes about big issues in The Vegetable Ark but in both text and illustration they are cloaked in off beat humour and delightful quirkiness. Recommended for primary-aged children.

The Vegetable Ark: A Tale of Two Brothers

The Vegetable Ark: A Tale of Two Brothers, Kim Kane Sue deGennaro
Allen & Unwin 2010
ISBN: 9781741759969

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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