A new conceptual activity book by artist Sara Fanelli, from Phaidon Press, is an absolute surprise. Not only because it's a marvelous work of quirky design, offbeat collage, and whimsical paper engineering, but also because of the unexpected philosophical questions and imagination stretching exercises it asks kids to engage in.
"We onions are cheerful so lively and bright, but there is a dark horror that gives us a fright. It's called the Big Fry - such a terrible fate! If onions fall in, all help comes too late. Yet onions that learn to think and to doubt grow clever and wise - they find a way out."
So begins The Onion's Great Escape, in which the reader follows an onion through its existential musings in an attempt to escape a death by frying pan. Along the way, answering such questions as: "Is something less real because we cannot touch it?" "Do cherries taste the same for everyone?" "Does a butterfly remember being a caterpillar?" "Can a chair be happy?"
As each page of the book gets filled in, the reader can punch out another perforated layer of the die-cut onion head, until by the end you literally pull free the now enlightened vegetable from the book itself.
Listen to Fanelli talk about her new thought-provoking work and witness the onion making its escape in the book trailer below.
• The Onion's Great Escape, Phaidon Press, May 2012
(Images: Ben Partridge)