Baker’s industrious pea-ple are back for a fifth tour, this time delivering an A-to-Z look at work and play.
Colorful, digitally textured lowercase letters loom large against white space, cleverly integrated into the action. Firefighters use a ladder truck to train a hose on a small fire high atop the letter F. An S—strapped to the roof of a school bus filled with book-toting students—sports a row of saluting soldiers up on top. Among the standard community helpers, from architects to window washers, Baker inserts a bit of whimsy: there are pirates, a queen, and five “X-Peas” exhibiting their superpowers. There’s some deliberate, anthropomorphized diversity: a violinist is female (or at least has a ponytail) and uses a wheelchair; one soldier appears female (with hair in a bun), and most work crews have some female peas (so to speak). Genders are suggested by hairstyles, props, and purses. Depicting “jailbirds” for J seems jarringly tone-deaf. Three peas in stereotyped black-and-white striped uniforms peer sadly from a multilevel barred building topped with barbed wire; the letter itself is also incarcerated. (A guard snoozes in a chair below, while a smiling janitor mops the floor.) Admittedly, there’s fun for kids to discover here—from the vegetable horde’s teeming activities to a ladybug that appears on each double-page spread—but the text scans erratically, making for clunky read-alouds.
Perhaps these peas have simply pea-tered out. (Picture book. 3-7)