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The Pea Blossom Hardcover – March, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1-3–Poole has taken Hans Christian Andersen's "Five Peas from One Pod" and pared down the text, eliminating the religious overtones but retaining the humor and poignancy of the original. Five peas sit dreaming in their pod in a small garden outside the city of Bejing. The first four make grandiose plans, anticipating flights to the sun or moon, or dining with the emperor. The fifth and smallest pea is content to wait and see. When the pod is cracked open and a boy with a peashooter sends the peas flying in different directions, the first four meet disastrous ends, but the fifth lands in moss on a window ledge. When it sprouts and flowers, it brings first hope and eventually health to a sick child. Andersen's recurrent themes of disdain for the pretentious and the presence of the noble within the simple shine through. Poole's luminous ink-and-gouache illustrations on rice paper reflect both her training in traditional Chinese techniques and her own creative spark. The result is paintings that are both graceful and intricate, with animals nestled below ground and in trees for the observant to discover. An informative author's note completes this worthy addition to the picture-book shelves.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

From Booklist

K-Gr. 2. In this lovely retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Pea Blossom," five little peas wait impatiently in the sun to ripen. The first four peas have grand aspirations--one wishes to dine with the emperor; another plans to visit the moon--but the fifth and last little pea declares, "I shall go wherever it is that I am meant to." The fifth pea's destiny is to land on the windowsill of a gravely ill young girl, where it sprouts into a beautiful, blooming plant that brings about miraculous healing: "As the peas grew fat in their pods, so did the girl thrive and become healthy again." Choosing to set her version in Beijing, China, Poole illustrates her simple, elegant prose with watercolors on rice paper that are clearly reminiscent of Chinese paintings. The delicate, graceful scenes are imbued with just the right touch of whimsy; children will particularly enjoy the expressive faces of the anthropomorphic peas. A poignant read-aloud that will enhance any folktale collection. Jennifer Locke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; 1 edition (March 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823418642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823418640
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 10.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,538,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ofttimes the retelling of a classic does not at all diminish the original work, but rather brings new life to a beloved story. Such is the case with Amy Lowry Poole's retelling and illustrating of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Pea Blossom," which was originally published in Danish in 1853.

Writer/illustrator Poole lived in Beijing, China, for four years where she studied scroll making. This background is reflected in her beautifully wrought paintings that so perfectly evoke the spirit of this timeless tale.

Many will remember that the story begins in a little garden outside of Beijing where five peas wait in a shell. As they impatiently anticipate the day when they'll be free of the shell, they dream of what they will do. One wants to fly to the sun, another intends to soar to the moon, while the smallest pea simply says, "I shall go wherever it is that I am meant to."

Finally, their shell is torn open by a boy who believes they're perfect for his peashooter. Youngsters will enjoy learning the fate of the peas, especially that of the smallest one whose life journey is a rewarding surprise.

Thanks to Amy Lowry Poole for introducing this thought provoking tale to another generation.

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alastair Browne on February 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
The author of "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Little Mermaid" goes to China - sort of! This tale, by Hans Christian Andersen is set, outside of Beijing, rather than Copenhagen. Amy Lowry, the illustrator, retells this story from the place where she was trained to advance her artistic talent and learn draw on rice paper. You can tell from the pages have the background of this material.
I have stated in other reviews that I know Amy Lowry personally. This book is special to me because at our Gould Academy reunion in 2005, she went out of her want to autograph one of her copies she had and present it to me as a gift at a reunion party, and even had our picture taken of her presenting me with this book. This is a gift I cherish, and hopefully, this review will pay her in kind.
I would like to point out that it's worth buying and reading to your child also, and showing him or her the illustrations, regardless of whether I know the author. These illustrations can inspire the artistic talent in others, such as a drawing of the ground with the outlines of worms, caterpillars, other unnamed animals, plant roots, beets, to name a few. Lowry does the same thing with a tree, with the leaves showing outlines of birds, cats, and so on. The artwork, needless to say, is fascinating in its own way. One has to look deeply at the drawings, as in her other books. Every artist has their own style.
As for the story, it is set outside of Beijing, not Copenhagen, where a pea pod grows with five individual peas inside, each with a mind of its own. The first wants to fly with a raven to the Sun, the second to the Moon and meet up with a toad, the third and fourth wants to dine with the emperor, and the fifth will go where fate will take him. "What will happen will happen," says he.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Claire D. Myers on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful story that needed to be retold. That was accomplished in a gentle unique way. Illustrations were great! I gave this to my 3rd-grade granddaughter.
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