Peas and Quiet

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Gabrielle Tozer (text),  Sue deGennaro (illus.),  Peas and Quiet,  HarperCollins Australia,  1 July 2017,  32pp.,  $24.99 (hbk),  ISBN: 9781460752395

Peas and Quiet is a story of a friendship between two peas named Pip and Pop, who are usually contented and compatible living together in their pod – “two peas in a pod”. That is, except for one issue of incompatibility – Pop likes quiet so that he can enjoy his sleep and Pip wants to be left in peace to cook and sing. Hence the title’s play on the idiom “peace and quiet”. Conflict ensues when Pip refuses to cease her tuneless singing whilst busily baking during the night and Pop angrily leaves the pod. As Pop storms out Pip shouts accusations at him that he snores.  But soon enough they each lament the loss of the friendship, and finally the conflict is resolved with compromise and a clever solution in the form of earmuffs.

The story relays a common experience of friendship and conflict to which young children can easily relate. The clever solution to the problem experience by the peas will introduce children to the important idea that conflict can be resolved with thoughtfulness, compromise and a creative, original solution that suits both parties.

The text is in rhyming format and whilst the rhymes create a bouncy, cheerful, humorous tone, I sometimes wondered if the effort to maintain the rhyme interfered with development of the storyline. Pop’s response to being snatched by a cat sounds cumbersome to me: –

“Listen here!” Pop squeals out “Put me down, I will howl.”

In a few instances the words don’t actually rhyme

“I just got thrown! Then Pop remembers he is all alone.”

The illustrations of the cute round green peas dressed in patterned three quarter pants and socks are amusing and sweet. Their cartoon style facial expressions and body language convey their emotions. The colourful background images of domesticity – overflowing pots and clothes hanging on the line – set the scene of their cosy, cramped quarters and Pip’s bustling activity whilst cooking.

I think that the strength of this book is in the important messages of the value of friendship and the possibility of resolving conflict which are woven into an endearing and amusing storyline. It is a lively romp of a story for adults to share with pre-schoolers and early school age kids. It could serve as a useful parable when trying to resolve children’s squabbles.

A Teaching Guide can be found on the HarperCollins Australia website.

Reviewed by Barbara Swartz

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