Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Pete & Pickles, by Berkeley Breathed

Pete was a perfectly predictable pig.
He was also a perfectly practical pig.
And a perfectly uncomplicated pig.
Being all those perfect things, Pete might have run for the hills if he had known what was coming that night.

Pete is a very orderly pig. He likes to have things just so, and bristles when things get out of whack. But he also harbors a sadness in his heart, and suffers nightmares on stormy nights. One such night, Pete is startled from his usual nightmare by a late-night visitor: a fugitive elephant from the circus, named Pickles. When a clown comes looking, Pete rats her out, and the clown leads Pickles away. The next day, Pete is cleaning up and finds a dandelion - a gift left behind by Pickles. "Ridiculous," he muttered. He goes about his usual day, until that afternoon. While on his usual short walk, clutching Pickle's dandelion, he sees a circus tent. And then, Pete's life begins to change.
For Teachers and Librarians:
Pete & Pickles is a sweet story that will hold your little people's attention, and their hearts. When reading it aloud, be sure they all have a good view of the book, as the words and pictures work inextricably to tell the whole story. Pete is a pig who lives alone, grieving his deceased wife and moving through life by simply going through the motions. But then Pickles comes into his life, turning his orderly existence upside down. It is a story about friendship, and love, and big changes. And though Pete goes through trials and scary moments, he comes to find that big changes can bring much happiness. 

You could easily use this book as a springboard into a friendship unit: things friends do for each other, stuff friends do with each other, how friends feel about each other - from happy to sad to mad and lots of other feelings in between. Use it as a step to soothe children facing a big change in their life that they're unsure of, to show that it might be hard, and scary, but that change can be good. And of course, use it as a lovely story for a simple read aloud. There are lots of possibilities, here. Which will you choose?

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Your little guys will love Pete & Pickles. It will remind you somewhat of The Odd Couple in that Pete the pig and Pickles the elephant are such opposites: Pete is small, Pickles is big. Pete is orderly, while Pickles is not. Pete likes routine, but Pickles craves excitement and new adventures. But, it is ultimately a story about love, and friendship, and change, and the very big things a friend will do for a friend in need. When you read this, be sure your kiddos have a good view of the pictures, and be prepared for them to break into your reading as they notice all the little things nestled into the illustrations, and how the illustrations tell even more of the story that the words don't say. It is a story they will cherish long after they're not so little anymore. And so will you.

For the Kids:
Have you ever heard of a pig and an elephant being friends? If you read Pete & Pickles, then you will find out! Pete the pig meets Pickles the elephant when she hides in his house in the middle of the night, escaped from the circus. (She tries to hide under Pete's couch! Can you believe it?) The circus sends a clown to come get her, and Pete is glad. But, the next day, Pete finds himself searching for Pickles, and then they have lots of adventures together, until one day they argue. And then something happens, and Pickles finds herself in quite a pickle. What happens to her? Will she be saved? And what happens to Pete? Better go get the book and find out.
For Everyone Else:
Pete & Pickles is one of those books. You know, a kids' book that you'd swear was sending a message to all the adults out there, too. And it is. But the great thing is, this book can touch you no matter how old you are. It is a story that will pull you in, remind you of similar times in your own life, make you sad, make you smile, make you hope, make you laugh, make you worry, and flood you with relief. And then, it will make you smile all over again. Find it. Borrow it. Pretend you're buying it for a kid you know (instead of yourself), if it will make you feel better. But get it. Read it. You won't regret it.

Wrapping Up:
Pete & Pickles is a story of love, friendship, change, fun, discovery, and caring. Pete the pig and Pickles the elephant will find their way into your heart, and set up camp there for a long time to come. From Breathed's carefully chosen words, to his evocative and detailed illustrations, Pete & Pickles is a book that you will definitely want gracing your own personal bookshelf. No matter how old (or young) you are.

Title: Pete & Pickles
Author and Illustrator: Berkeley Breathed
Pages: 48
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher and Date: Philomel, October 16, 2008
Edition: 1st
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $17.99
ISBN-10: 0399250824
ISBN-13: 978-0399250828

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kim. Pete and Pickles sounds like a great book. I like your review.

    I like your blog so much that I'm bestowing the Butterfly award on you. Hop over to my blog and pick it up at

    Have a fun day!

    Joy Delgado
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