A mother gives her two unnamed children five cherries each—they won’t last long. Or will they?
The children are identical—white with dark, straight hair in bowl cuts, both wearing black-and-white–striped tops and black pants—except for the ribbons tied around their outsized heads (one red, one blue) and their shoes (black Mary Janes and white sneakers, respectively), so smudgily painted many readers will miss them. As they play, they shed both ribbons and shoes, becoming nigh indistinguishable. At first they are very different in attitude, though. One complains, “What am I gonna do with only 5 cherries?” The other celebrates: “I’m gonna do a ton of things with these 5 cherries.” Though the blue-ribboned child declares, “I’m gonna eat them all at once,” while stuffing them in, there’s a lot more playing than eating going on. Readers will wonder whether Mom, off-page, supplies more, or perhaps the children pick them for themselves, as the cherries seem not to run out, at least not permanently, and they take a lot of punishment. The fruits are used as pretend medals, ammunition in toy cannon, pie filling, and—in a perfectly childlike moment—tiny pretend breasts, among other deployments. The children move beyond stereotypical gendered play to creative endeavors, harmoniously cooperative in their absorption.
Painterly figures against plenty of white space—and those gorgeous, red cherries—invite readers into their own fruit-fueled fantasies. (Picture book. 3-6)