Monday, January 4, 2010

Long & Short Of The Pete & Pickles Tale

I’M A GROWNUP known to enjoy a good children’s book now and then. This Christmas, I was gifted with a picture book that compels me to write the first review I’ve done in a while.

Pete & Pickles by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County fame instantly caught my interest because of its quirky characters, crisp writing style, and bold illustrations filled with creative detail that jump off the page.

Also, the birth of the book’s theme and its hand drawings with a possible blend of digital art are relatable to me because they are kid-inspired.

Just as my daughter’s watercolor drawings moved me to evolve the Penelope Puddle character, Breathed was inspired by his daughter’s crayon sketch coloured at a safari-themed restaurant. Not only did Breathed flesh out his daughter’s art, he expanded her thoughts about the characters to create the story in his book.

Pete & Pickles tells the tale of a fastidious and lonely widowed pig (Pete). Pete has a respectable fear of drowning, a worry that probably many kids and even some grownups (such as myself) can relate to.

Pete is lured out of his comfort zone by a good-natured elephant (Pickles). Pickles is a messy adventurer with a huge imagination that eventually sweeps them both into fantastic and fancifully faraway places.

In Penelope Puddle’s world, it is a sidekick umbrella that sparks the imagination. In Breatheds’ story, it is the elephant that clearly sparks imagination, luring practical Pete outdoors into unruly fun and adventure. Yes … from my perspective, Pickles IS, indeed, Pete’s “sidekick umbrella”.

Nonetheless, the pair develop a mutually beneficial relationship because Pete rescues Pickles, a circus elephant who has no one to care about him until Pete, grudgingly at first, comes along.

Some moms and dads might view the near-drowning and widower aspects of the story as somewhat “dark” for 6-year-olds and under. Other parents might not want their children delving into the book until they are nine years of age. However, if handled age-appropriately, a glimpse into love lasting beyond death, the warmth of a budding relationship, learning to overcome fears and challenging oneself could all likely supercede any concerns.

There are subtle moral lessons and nuances to Pete & Pickles that will appeal to both young and old. My main observation is, however, that long and short noses CAN get along and complement one another in the end.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms