Paul (The Great Pasta Escape, 2017, etc.) merges theatrical farce with informational picture book in this latest.
If pears could stage a production to tell the story of their life cycle, this would be that show. Two excited young seeds, one depicted as feminine (with a little red hat and a decorative flower) and especially anxious, the other a masculine know-it-all (accessorized with a bow tie and a cane), announce they are going to be pears as this biological play begins. First, of course, the seeds need soil, rain, and sunshine. Then they must settle in for a long nap—a 2-year-long one! Even after their long nap the anxious seed is disappointed to find they are still only saplings. It takes three more years before they grow into fruit-bearing trees. Throughout the book, Berger’s collage art harkens to the theater, illustrating footlights, stagehands, and props, even breaking the flow of the speech-bubble dialogue when a big costume change comes midway through a dispute between the two leads. The use of gendered portrayals of the seedlings raises the question of pollination in the creation of fruit without addressing the roles of botanical male and female contributions. Nevertheless, this cute and simple story brings readers back to the cycle of life as the female pear reveals that she harbors new seeds with which the play’s action may begin again. Backmatter offers further information on pear growth, a handful of pear trivia, and a bibliography.
These pears will be fun read-aloud companions for curious eaters and budding botanists. (Informational picture book. 5-8)