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Freymann, Saxton 1958(?)–

Freymann, Saxton 1958(?)–

Personal

Born c. 1958; married Mia Galison (a business owner and product developer); children: three.

Addresses

Home—New York, NY.

Career

Author and illustrator of children's books, fine-art painter, and photographer. EeBoo Corporation (toy and gift company), cofounder.

Awards, Honors

New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books selection, and National Association of Parenting Publications Gold Award, both 1999, and Oppenheim Portfolio Platinum Medal, all for How Are You Peeling?; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal, and International Reading Association Children's Choice selection, both for One Lonely Sea Horse; New York Times Best Illustrated Book selection, 2002, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal, both for Dog Food; Society of Illustrators Original Art Show selection, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal, both for Baby Food; New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Seal, both for Food for Thought; Society of Illustrators Original Art Show selection, New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, all for Fast Food.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Play with Your Food, Joost Elffers Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Play with Your Pumpkins, recipes by Johannes van Dam, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1998.

How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 1999.

One Lonely Sea Horse, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Dr. Pompo's Nose, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Gus and Button, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Dog Food, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Baby Food, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Food for Thought: The Complete Book of Concepts for Growing Minds, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Fast Food, Arthur A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Food Play, Chronicle Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Sidelights

Saxton Freymann is the author and illustrator of a number of highly original and imaginative picture books, among them the award-winning How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods and Dr. Pompo's Nose. In each of his works, Freymann combines photography with sculpture; as Smithsonian contributor Marian Smith Holmes noted, Freymann "deftly transforms garden-variety produce into emotive faces and amusing animals that he enhances with peppercorn or black-eyed pea eyes, beetjuice mouths, or corn-kernel teeth."

A self-described "hardworking, slightly reclusive, and somewhat serious" painter based in New York City, Freymann unknowingly embarked on a picture-book career in 1997 when he partnered with book publisher Joost Elffers, who was in search of someone to create a book about unusual food garnishes. Taking on the project, Freymann scoured neighborhood markets and "look[ed] carefully at the shape of every fruit and vegetable, trying to find something familiar," according to National Geographic World contributor Lynda DeWitt.

Armed with a scalpel-sharp knife and the knowledge that fruits and vegetables quickly discolor and lose texture when exposed to air, Freymanne quickly transforming the carefully selected produce into a range of colorful creatures, then shaping their photo. The completion of Freymann's first book established his work technique, a sculpture process that seems more akin to performance art. Illustrated with everything from bok choy buffalos to banana octopi, Play with Your Food was published in 1997. An instant sensation, it was quickly followed by Play with Your Pumpkins, featuring recipes by Johannes van Dam. "This small book is a visual delight," stated a reviewer in appraising Freymann's second book for the Christian Science Monitor.

Realizing that Freymann's whimsical approach to his work would find a ready audience among imaginative youngsters, New York-based publisher Arthur A. Levine quickly offered the photographer and painter the opportunity to create children's books. Freymann accepted the offer, and although working on his own has continued to give credit to Elffers. In How Are You Peeling? he combines a brief, rhyming text with his expressive food sculptures to produce examples of peoples' many emotional states. "Photos of scowling oranges and gregarious scallions garnish this garden of delights," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic, and Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg predicted that "kids will find the inherent silliness irresistible." One Lonely Sea Horse, a counting book, follows a tiny sea horse named Bea as she searches for new friends. Bea's companions include lobsters made from ginger and puffer fish carved from horned melons. "Each turn of the page reveals a cleverly conceived and executed scene that evokes a remarkably realistic underwater moment," observed School Library Journal reviewer Joy Fleishhacker.

A group of pumpkins takes center stage in Dr. Pompo's Nose, a tale told in verse. As Dr. Pompo makes his morning rounds, he happens upon a disembodied stem and, with the help of his friends, realizes that someone has lost a nose. Writing in School Library Journal, Adele Greenlee complimented Freymann's "portrayal of character and emotion in the various faces, which look puzzled, critical, grouchy, and playful at times." In Publishers Weekly a contributor noted that the author's "animation is so effective that readers may believe an ordinary, featureless pumpkin is merely squeezing its eyes shut." A mushroom boy and his equally fungal pet dog trek through a dangerous artichoke forest to reunite a baby pea with its mother in Gus and Button, another picture book by Freymann that features a story narrative. According to Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher, the trip "teaches Gus the value of reaching for something new and of looking deeply at what's around him."

In Dog Food, Freymann uses edibles to construct a red radish puppy, a lettuce sheepdog, and other varieties of vegetable-based canines. "Bananas, cucumbers, artichokes, broccoli, and more are rearranged and combined into hilarious canine scenes," remarked Lauren Peterson in a review of the book for Booklist. Baby Food, a companion volume featuring a cast of baby animals, "encourages readers to view familiar objects in new ways," observed School Library Journal critic Kathy Piehl. In the playful Fast Food, the author transforms freshly picked produce into freewheeling forms of transportation. In the words of Washington Post Book World reviewer Abby McGanney Nolan, while the book's "playful rhymes keep up the pace …, it is the pictures that will get the most scrutiny—in one spread, a watermelon ocean liner navigates through red-lettuce waters." Freymann presents shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and opposites in Food for Thought: The Complete Book of Concepts for Growing Minds. "Solid, candy-colored backgrounds showcase an irresistible cast of produce-part creatures," Engberg commented, while a Kirkus Reviews critic stated that "viewers can't help but respond to the art's broad, infectious humor."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

ArtNews, April, 1995, Elizabeth Hayt, "Saxton Freymann, Phyllis Herfield, Blake Summers," p. 149.

Booklist, February 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods, p. 1026; May 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of One Lonely Sea Horse, p. 1677; November 15, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Gus and Button, p. 580; October 15, 2002, Lauren Peterson, review of Dog Food, p. 412; November 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Baby Food, p. 501; January 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Food for Thought: The Complete Book of Concepts for Growing Minds, p. 852; February 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Fast Food, p. 48.

Canadian Review of Materials, October 6, 2000, Dave Jenkinson, review of How Are You Peeling? and One Lonely Sea Horse.

Childhood Education, spring, 2000, Susan A. Miller, review of How Are You Peeling?, p. 173.

Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 1998, "Artists Give the Jack-o'-Lantern a Character-enhancing Tilt," p. 8.

Daily Mail (London, England), December 20, 2001, "Cabbage Patch Droll; How One Man Created an Amazing Fantasy Land of Fruit and Veg … and He Really Is a Fungi (Geddit?)"

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2001, review of Gus and Button, p. 1483; August 1, 2002, review of Dog Food, p. 1128; December 15, 2004, review of Food for Thought, p. 1201; January 1, 2006, review of Fast Food, p. 41.

National Geographic World, December, 1998, Lynda DeWitt, "Pretty Peas," p. 22.

New York Times Book Review, December 17, 2000, review of Dr. Pompo's Nose, p. 30; October 20, 2002, review of Dog Food, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1999, review of How Are You Peeling?, p. 72; August 7, 2000, review of Dr. Pompo's Nose, p. 93; November 1, 2001, review of Gus and Button, p. 66; June 17, 2002, review of Dog Food, p. 63.

School Library Journal, November, 2000, Adele Greenlee, review of Dr. Pompo's Nose, p. 120; December, 2001, Lauralyn Persson, review of Gus and Button, p. 100; July, 2002, Joy Fleishhacker, review of One Lonely Sea Horse, p. 72; September, 2002, Adele Greenlee, review of Dog Food, p. 190; November, 2003, Kathy Piehl, review of Baby Food, p. 94; March, 2005, Melinda Piehler, review of Food for Thought, p. 193; April, 2006, Luann Toth, review of Fast Food, p. 106.

Smithsonian, February, 2001, Marian Smith Holmes, "Please Eat the Art," p. 116.

Vegetarian Journal, March-April, 2004, Debra Wasserman, review of Baby Food, p. 32.

Washington Post Book World, May 14, 2006, Abby McGanney Nolan, "Greasy Kid Stuff," review of Fast Food, p. 9.

ONLINE

Scholastic Web site,http://www.scholastic.com/ (March 12, 1997), "Saxton Freymann."

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