Feast of Peas (Kashmira Sheth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Feast of Peas, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, a fable of mystery, deception, and vegetables.

Once upon a time in India, there was a humble man named Jiva, who worked in his garden all day to grow fresh vegetables. And among his okra and eggplants and beans, it was his pea plants he loved the best. He lovingly fusses over the little plants as they sprout, then blossom, then become tiny peapods, all the while singing a song of his excitement for his pea harvest. Yet when the day comes to harvest his peas, they are missing from the vine! Jiva’s friend Ruvji suggests that rabbits have stolen the peas, so Jiva builds a fence to protect his next crop… which also goes missing! Who is taking his beloved peas?! Jiva has a sneaking suspicion, and he’ll have to lay a clever trap to catch them in the act…

Fun! The mystery itself is a clever one, especially in the way the third act reveal plays out. Spoiler alert: Ruvji is stealing the peas and lying to his friend, and when caught, Jiva asks him to cook a feast of peas as penance. The food prepared looks absolutely scrumptious, and may convince little ones who avoid their peas to look at them in a new light. My only quibble is how quickly Ruvji is forgiven for his transgressions, which feel a lot crueler considering that he knows how much my friend Jiva loves his plants. Otherwise, lovely illustrations bring characters and backdrops to life, and are wonderfully infused with Indian culture and scenery. The length is best for ages 5 and up, though JJ was delighted with the repeated “feast of peas” song. It’s a unique book with a lot of magic going for it, and we enjoyed it! Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

George The Hero Hound (Jeffrey Ebbeler)

Hello, friends! Our book today is George The Hero Hound by Jeffrey Ebbeler, the story of a hardworking hound dog and his new family.

George is indispensable on Farmer Fritz’s farm, helping the aging farmer with his finicky factor and to corral the wily cows. But when Fritz retires, he leaves George behind to be sold along with the farm and other animals. A city family named the Gladstones purchase George and company, and set about trying to learn the ropes of farm life (poorly). George, good hound that he is, does his part to help the family as they work out farming life, even tracking down toddler Olive when she wanders off. And after some growing pains, George finds new purpose looking after the farm and his new family.

Very uneven. The story threw me from the get-go by introducing the plot point that George was being sold as a part of the farm, the explanation given that Farmer Fritz is moving to a beachside bungalow that doesn’t allow dogs. Okaaay… but wouldn’t the farmer at least inform his faithful, hardworking friend’s new owners of George’s NAME? It’s a sideplot that doesn’t satisfyingly resolve itself, and sort of gives the impression that dog ownership is something you can foist off on others when you feel like it. Also, there is a distracting discrepancy in the character of Olive, who appears to be an older toddler (around 4) but is described as a baby and having not said her first words. It’s a really strange disconnect for anyone familiar with kids. This aside, the high point of the book is the art, which features some phenomenal background gags of the clever cattle getting into all sorts of silly adventures. But therein lies the problem: if your background art is more interesting than your main story, something isn’t working. The length was okay and JJ was mildly interested, but honesty? I would have preferred a book starring the cows. Not for us.