Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Nobody Asked the Pea, written by John Warren Stewig and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son, 2013. $19.95 ages 8 and up
Here's another fractured fairy tale to share with kids in intermediate and middle years classrooms. It is a worthy mentor text when talking about point of view and voice.
The cast of characters opens the book, just as if it is a play to be staged. In fact, it could work as a performance piece for reader's theatre, or the stage. There is variety in voice, and humor in the telling. It is sure to be appreciated by a wide audience.
We begin with Patrick the Pea, enjoying the sun and the attention of the gardener who has made this growing season so spectacular. He is proud to be the most impressive pea in the pod, and the patch. Even Queen Mildred seems enamored of him. She is on a tear to get Prince Harold married off; but, only with final approval for the appropriate princess going to the Queen herself. Prince Harold is in no hurry to marry as he has everything a young prince might want. He will go to see Princess Tina, and can only hope that she might be interested in hunting. He will bring her home to meet his mother's approval.
Even Mother Mouse gets in on the action, cautioning her many youngsters to stay out of the way as there is much commotion in the preparation for Tina's arrival. And so the story moves along, giving voice to Tina and her maid, the new housekeeper (who is charged with gathering a boatload of mattresses for the princess to sleep on), King Henry, the doorman, and some repeat visits to characters already met. Princess Lucy's arrival and inability to sleep with a pea tucked between the mattresses sets the 'happily ever after' part of the tale in motion leaving everyone satisfied, except perhaps Patrick. He does have a place of honor in the royal museum; it's just that the crowds are diminishing and he may find himself replaced at some point in the future.
Fonts change, conversations are enclosed in boxes set on the single and double page watercolor and pencil artwork. The characters are expressive and detailed. I would love to see a class use this book as a basis for a dramatic presentation. It could be such fun!