Monday, September 23, 2019

Review - Pea Pod Lullaby

Pea Pod Lullaby
by Glenda Millard
illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Date: 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

I am the small green pea, you are the tender pod, hold me

Words sing over the pictures in this evocative story: a beautiful lullaby about what we can be for each other.

A mother and baby, a boy and a dog run for their lives. A little boat carries them across the sea. A polar bear, too, has come adrift. When will they find land? Where will they find friends? Who will welcome them in?

The Pea Pod Lullaby is an inspiring and timely story of courage, endurance, and hope... for a world in which we can reach out and embrace one another.

(synopsis from Goodreads)


Don't get me wrong. Poems turned into picture books can be lovely. But I just don't see something like this as a children's book. With lines like I am the windblown husk / you are the jewelled rain / quench me, the book veers squarely into adult territory.

At first, I thought this might have explored the plight of refugees. But that part of the story is so unrealistic as to be useless. After a family and their dog escape from something (presumably a war), they go to sea in a boat, rescue a polar bear from a floating fridge, share snacks with it (while the dog--perhaps the only intelligent creature on that boat--barks and growls), drop the bear off on an iceberg with its family, and finally dock in a new land that welcomes them with open arms. Really? Is that what we're teaching children about the refugee experience now?

I get the whole me/you/we thing that the text is all about, but I don't know if kids will. Especially since they have to decode it from those artsy verses with somewhat advanced vocabulary. (I can just imagine some kids asking for word definitions every few pages.)

The watercolour illustrations themselves are kind of cute, but I probably would've liked them more if the accompanying text had been different.

In the end, I just don't like this. It's too advanced for little kids, and it's too ridiculous for older readers. If you want to make a statement about refugees and the environment, you don't need to couch it in such overblown poetry. Sometimes a straightforward approach works best.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.83 out of 5 ladybugs

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