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Popcorn | Frank Asch

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Certain elements, whether it be visual, verbal, tactile or other, stick to us like a sweet taffy that never fully expires. We forget about it, but then when we allow ourselves to stop and remember, can feed on it and even be sustained by it into our adulthood. One of these precious confections for me is the visuals of Frank Asch's Popcorn. I did not own this book as a child. Instead, (and further adding to its allure), it lived on a small table in the dentist office's waiting for me to read at every visit. I couldn't get enough of the simple lines, flat colors and the commitment it took to draw each individual popcorn piece. The pattern-maker in me was always searching for a duplicate so I could say, "Ah-ha! I found where the artist tried to hide their fatigue." I was enthralled by the escalating insanity that ensues when all the party guests combine their popcorn kernels and incidentally fill the entire house with popcorn. It's also just fun that it takes place on Halloween, but isn't overshadowed by that as the dominant detail.

This was my only exposure to Asch until recently, when my son's equal enthusiasm for this book (after I finally purchased my own copy) led me to collect more of his originals. And wow. The over-the-top absurdity in Popcorn is even more unbridled in his other stories.

Sand Cake, Bread and Honey, Pizza and Monsieur Saquette and his Baguette are among a few I have added. There are so many more I am eager to check out (Asch is admirably unapologetically prolific!), but so far in these other titles, I have experienced that same mild discomfort not knowing where Asch is taking us, or how things will be resolved, especially when there is an element of danger in sight. There is always at least one detail in his stories that feels like a risk, riding that edge from light-hearted silliness to predicament. Teetering between the two is where Asch's magic can be found. Some of these stories leave me with an audible "What?" upon finishing them. But that confusion and state of "what just happened?" is what I love the most.

A few cover selections from Asch's 80+ titles:


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