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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pete & Pickles, written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed. Penguin Group (Canada), 2008. $20.00 ages 6 and up

"Pete awoke the next day to find Pickles doing a little morning tai if she were in China.
Which she certainly was not.
On the other hand, Pete noted that his houseguest had
made a few changes to the grounds. This time Pete did
NOT say "ridiculous".

Pete is a 'perfectly practical' pig; added to that is his predictability and his lack of sophistication. Had he known what Pickles would bring to his life, he may have taken to the hills. A rainstorm sends him into a tailspin of trepidation as he awaits his worst nightmare...water and drowning! In the midst of his bad dream, he is awakened by an unfamiliar sound. Pete is not prepared for Pickles, an on-the-lam elephant with soulful eyes and a wish to be protected. Pete is quick to rat her out and the elephant is lead away!

A gift of dandelions is all that is left of his nighttime guest.

His daily walk changes somewhat and leads him to the circus tents, where he spots a long nose picking even more dandelions. Recognition is immediate. In a move that is terribly unlike him, Pete finds the key to unlock Pickles' bonds and helps her escape. Back home, Pete begins to question his decision as Pickles' snoring makes him 'perfectly unpleased'.

Pickles is game for anything and brings many changes to Pete's sedate and solitary life. She scubs his back, suggests hair-raising adventure and encourages him to explore the power of the imagination for making life more exciting. Life has certainly become 'more complicated'. When they are threatened by a broken water pipe and a home that is quickly filling with water, both Pickles and Pete do what great friends would do for each other. Of that scene, Berkeley Breathed says:

"I can't resist the great moment of truth. It's what draws me to a story. ... Most children's stories ... are afraid to bring a moment of danger and threat and potential death to a story, which I think is absolutely critical in carrying a child in through the arc that is required for him or her — as long as you show them the other end of that tunnel and the decisions made to get out of it."

Real friendship, love and big changes...they are all present in this wonderful tale.
While change will always be daunting, it doesn't have to be unbearable.

This book should not be is a '10'! and will always have a place on my 'keepers' bookshelf!

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