Reviews /

The Princess and the (Greedy) Pea

Authored by Leigh Hodgkinson
Illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson
Published by Walker Books Ltd

No doubt you are familiar with the old woman who swallowed a fly, but did you hear about the greedy pea who swallowed a sprout? In an echo of the book’s refrain, you might well be thinking, ‘…he swallowed a sprout – What’s that about?’ Well, you will just have to read this entertaining twist on the traditional rhyme to find out. Oh, and it rhymes if you hadn’t guessed.

Our eponymous greedy pea eats all manner of foods: pie, bread, soup; basically, anything that he finds, until he becomes sleepy and takes, ‘off his shoes…to go for a snooze’. Unfortunately, he chooses the bed of a fairytale princess who is not happy with her lumpy, bumpy bed. The question is: will the greedy pea survive? Without giving it away, young children are bound to relish the humour of the plot twist.

The Princess and the (Greedy) Pea is a feast for the eyes and the ears, with many avenues that could be explored. Bright, colourful illustrations combine with pleasing rhyme that simply begs to be read aloud. The repetitive text easily lends itself to whole class choral performance, which, whilst supporting children’s oracy would, I imagine, also feel quite satisfying. There are performance teaching points also in the use of bold print and different fonts which highlight key words, supporting the reader with using appropriate emphasis.

From a literary perspective, comparisons might be made with other authors, for example, the layout of text and the fonts selected is reminiscent of Lauren Child’s style. There are obvious links with the traditional rhyme this book is fashioned on and of course the The Princess and the Pea. From a language perspective there is also potential to be playful. The book offers clear examples of synonyms, e.g. swallowed, wolfed, slurped etc. and following the rhyme’s structure by substituting the items eaten is a simple way to create an alternative. All in all, a perfect book to have fun within a Reception or Year 1 classroom.

Shortlisted for the FCBG Award 2024 Books for Younger Readers Category