A boy befriends a lonely palm tree then searches for a way to integrate it into island life in the authors’ idiosyncratic picture-book debut.
Frederick lives on a tropical island and regularly walks the Nettleberry Trail to a pink sandy beach where a fantastic palm tree—with bulging, spicy pepperoni sausages hanging from its branches—grows on the shoreline. Ridiculed and mocked by the “normal trees” with their respectable coconuts and mangoes, the poor pepperoni palm confides in the boy, who promises to find evidence of other trees like it in the universe and put an end to all the derision. Frederick consults his books and turns up nothing, so he sets off around the world looking for evidence of similar species to end his friend’s loneliness. Many years later, he returns older and wiser with news that the palm tree is unique and he has big ideas for their future, including plans to build a pizza parlor on the beach. Parrish’s vivid illustrations, bursting with color and life, compliment the zany text and bring out the strangeness of the jungle, with its screeching monkeys, sneering papaya plants and gloating banana bunches. The whole thing has a touch of Seuss about it. But you can’t help wondering what will happen to this idyllic paradise once the Pizza Place is up and running and crowds of tourists are flocking to visit the world-famous tree and restaurant.
An odd, humorous tale with an inclusive message that sets out to prove everything has value, no matter how strange it seems at first.