Tuesday 20 October 2020

Pea and Nut: Go for Gold!

Pea and Nut: Go for Gold!
by Matt Stanton (ABC Books) HB RRP $17.99 ISBN: 9780733340680

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

Pea the panda and Nut the flamingo are mates, the type of mates who just have to see who is faster, stronger, better - and don’t mind playing dirty to figure it out. When Nut wants a swimming race, it doesn’t take much to convince Pea to take him on. What follows is a hectic contest of one-upmanship and good-natured foul play in rhyming verse.

Matt Stanton is an established and popular children’s author, and this second book in the Pea and Nut series is an accomplished offering in the modern Australian picture book genre. Pea and Nut are characters capable of fitting snugly alongside the Cranky Bear, Pig the Pug and Macca the Alpaca - to the point where we may start to wonder whether the field is becoming overly cluttered. The text is jokey, rough-and-tumble, dialogue-rich and entertaining. Younger readers may need some help to fill in the meaning which is left in the gaps between the rhyming lines.

In this strange year, it is unfortunate that this book has missed out on the Olympic tie-in momentum that it was undoubtedly intended to capitalise on. At the same time, the bold, colourful illustrations and wonderfully expressive characters are uplifting and a great asset for parents and teachers trying their best to keep a sense of fun and play in kids’ lives. It is appealing to think that ideas around sportsmanship, friendly competition and respectful play can be explored in a context where those concepts have more meaning and symbolism than ever before.

This is a prime candidate for read-aloud fun and games, character voices and facial expressions - a wonderful opportunity for laughter and connection. Children aged 3 to 7 years will get a kick out of this book - as will a lot of their adult companions.

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