I Don't Want to Be a Pea! by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Simon Rickerty will be released on January 3, 2012 in the US. It has been available in the UK for a while now under the same title but with a different cover (second one above) and I was curious to see how the fairy tale inspiration worked.
Book description from the publisher for UK edition:
Hugo is in no doubt as to what he and Bella should go as to the Hippo-Bird Fancy Dress Party. They will go as the princess and the pea and he will be the princess (of course!) leaving poor Bella to be the pea. Indignant, Bella refuses. She has a better suggestion - they will go as a mermaid on a rock and she will be the mermaid (of course!) leaving a huffy Hugo to be the rock. Hugo is not happy. But neither is Bella. They just can't decide on a costume and things reach a crisis when they both flounce off saying they don't want to go to the party at all. After time to consider, both Hugo and Bella calm down and (privately) both choose to dress as a pea as a gesture of making it all up to each other. So when they both arrive at the party as peas, Hugo and Bella announce proudly that they are 'two peas in a pod, just as it should be' underlining the message of the book that friendship is all about give and take. With wonderfully absurd illustrations from new talent Simon Rickerty and a great read-aloud text, this is a made-for-sharing picture book.
Hugo Hippo has a best bird. Bella Bird has a best hippo. They make a perfect pair, and they are going to the Fairy Tale Dress-Up party together, of course: Hugo will be the princess, and Bella will be the pea.
No, wait: Bella will be the princess, and Hugo will be the pea….No, the first way. No, the second way. Wait, now, which way? If these two pals can't agree on who will be the pea, their party plan will fall to pieces. But when a couple of surprise compromises lead to a new costume solution, Hugo and Bella learn that sometimes it feels better to make someone else happy than to get your own way—and that when it comes to friendship, they're two peas in a pod.
Hugo and Bella mirror real-life give-and-take: Hippos and birds have symbiotic relationships in nature!
I received a review copy through Amazon and wrote a review for it this week. If you read it, you'll see I liked the book, but didn't love it. It has a spoiler, so be warned.
Hippo and Bird are going to the Bird-Hippo Fairy Tale Fancy Dress Party, but they can't decide on their costumes. Each wants to be a pair in which he/she is the starring role while the other is the supporting cast. For example: Bird is the mermaid and Hippo is the mermaid's rock. The dialogue is cute. The illustrations are cute. But somehow it is still lacking. I don't know if there is enough there for most children to understand the ending. And some of the spreads don't convey the message as well as one would hope--one spread doesn't even illustrate, just has paint splattered pages that don't hold interest at all.
They go as the Happy Ending. (They both end up being peas.)
I love the concept and the idea of the ending, but I am not so sure it is easily understood by the preschool set other than that both agree being friends is the most important part of the party. I don't think I am underestimating kids either since I know adults who won't quite "get it." I liked the book. I am keeping it. But I am not in love with it. In the end, it's really a 3 1/2 star book for me. It was released last year in the UK and I was eager to see it and happy to get a review copy, but perhaps I just expected too much from it.
And, as another reviewer noted, for reading aloud, using distinctive voices for the characters really helps. Most of the children in my life will enjoy it if I deliver it well and discuss it afterwards, but I don't think it will be their new favorite either.