Peas and Quiet (Gabrielle Tozer, illus by Sue deGennaro, HarperCollins)
Best known for her YA writing, Gabrielle Tozer’s first picture book tells the story of two peas called Pip and Pop, who live together in a pod. But all is not happy in this tiny home. The rhyme scheme throughout the book begs to be read aloud: ‘In their cosy peapod, they squirm, hop and giggle / there’s barely enough room to bounce, skip and wriggle.’ The peas may be best friends, but living in close proximity also creates problems. Pip’s tuneless singing interrupts Pop’s sleeping, so much so that Pop decides to pack his bags and leave. Though initially glad to see him go, after a while Pip realises that ‘life isn’t so sweet / when there’s only one pea’. She even misses his snuffled snoring. Pop, meanwhile, has a run-in with a mischievous kitten and also finds life alone lonely and dangerous. The two peas eventually unite and come up with a genius solution to combat one’s singing and the other’s snoring. Peas and Quiet may be a simple story, but adults can use the book to talk to pre-schoolers about sibling rivalry, different personalities, and compromise and conflict resolution. Sue deGennaro’s illustrations are colourful and fun, humanising and amplifying the peas to balloon-size to ease visibility.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue