Another inventive and original picture book about the adventures of Runaway Pea.
The washing-up’s finished, but what do we see? Under the bubbles, a WASHED-AWAY PEA!
In his first book we met Runaway Pea on an exciting adventure that led to the depths of the dog bowl, the hazards of the mousetrap and dangerously close to the orangey glow of the toaster. Instead of pinging off the plate, in this follow-up story we find Pea washed-away down the plughole. You’d expect him to be terrified but Pea has a wonderful time in all the mess and the slime. He rescues a cross little spider and tries to make friends with a duck, a fish and a frog before finding himself attached to Boris the dog by a loose bit of cobweb. Luckily, this turns out to be the start of another exciting watery adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book about Runaway Pea, especially the original concept and the inventive nature of his exploits. I was, therefore, curious whether the sequel would be as good.
The text is strong and appealing (even if the rhyme isn’t quite as perfect as the first book) and the adventures are every bit as clever as the first story. Again, I loved the occasions when you can almost hear Pea’s adventures – particularly the SWISH and GLUG as he disappears down the plughole – but, sadly, these aren’t quite so numerous in this book.
The characterisation is, however, superb. For much of the book Pea’s gung-ho positive outlook is contrasted with the nervous and fearful spider. Indeed, while this book is supposed to be about Pea, spider’s reactions (and the illustrations of these) are one of the things I enjoyed the most.
Again, it’s seriously impressive how much personality illustrator, Alex Willmore, manages to add to these two characters. Pea is essentially a little green circle but the face superimposed on top perfectly conveys his daring nature. Spider is also highly stylised (two overlapping purple circles with black lines for legs) but his facial expressions reveal his timid personality equally well.
The ending is not quite as strong as the inspired twist in the first book (probably an impossible feat to replicate) but I did enjoy the circular narrative and am confident the book will appeal to children. (I suspect they will also very much enjoy exploring the insides of the water pipes with all that slime and mess!)
If you enjoyed this and haven’t already got a copy, you should definitely read The Runaway Pea by Kjartan Poskitt and Alex Willmore.
Date: July 2020
Publisher: Simon and Schuster