Little Pea is a perfect example of what I was thinking about the other day. How I can forgive bad or mediocre writing for fun or good illustrations. We have a story of a Thumbelina character (Little Pea) who is so small they must borrow their doll shoes but still can fight bears and explore. They have a great life as a child, but when they go to school and realize how small they really are, things are not so ideal. Insert a quick, “What will happen to Little Pea, as they are so lonely” from the adults and a flash forward to Little Pea all “grown up” and the message of the book, “You are never too small to be a great artist” (or to follow your dreams) as now Little Pea is a Stamps for Letters artist.
The story is so-so. The jump from school to worried teacher to adult was a jolt. The idea of the story has been done before. Not exactly this way, but the “never too small” idea is a repeated theme. It is not badly written by Davide Cali, but it was not overly fresh. And to be honest, Sébastien Mourrain’s illustrations are not overly new, but they are fun. They are cute, clever and you can follow the story with them. They are both a character and a supporter of the bigger picture by being an extension of Little Pea and their world. Overall, the color scheme and details are familiar and cozy, while giving off a realistic fantasy world.
Most ages can listen to this book, as you can read the illustrations and move onto the text, and it could work for early with help readers. Probably would work best as a one-on-one reading, but a group setting is not out of the question. I can see it being used with an art class as a fun way to combine class work with a fun “story time.”
Little Pea is due in March 2023 (and is a reissue of The Tiny Tale of Little Pea) but you can read Little Pea’s Grand Journey and Little Pea’s Grand Journey beforehand.