Saturday, 22 May 2021

Pear of Hope

Pear of Hope by Wenda Shurety, illustrated by Deb Hudson (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781925820867 

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Anna adores the old pear tree at the bottom of her garden. It is her ‘secret hideout’, a ‘giver of rough and crinkled hugs’. When Anna becomes seriously ill with cancer, something is missing from the garden, and the leafless tree is left standing alone in the cold. Spring brings hope, as bareheaded Anna returns to the garden. She plants a pear seed, and the cycle of life continues.

Wenda Shurety blends simple yet startlingly beautiful language with a sanguine storyline in this breathtaking ode to hope. The pear tree sits at the centre of the tale as the comforting symbol of enduring life, yet it is also a vital character that offers warmth and wisdom to both the protagonist and the child reader. Anna’s cancer is not explicitly mentioned, with Wenda focusing instead on nature’s ability to invigorate.

Lush and lively, Deb Hudson’s illustrations are dripping with juicy colour. Even the endpapers are visually delicious! Bluebirds and butterflies add dynamic energy to the light and happy pages, but are conspicuous in their absence from the dark and sombre spreads. Deb’s characterisation of Anna – especially her hair loss – is handled with great care.

Pear of Hope is a gentle yet uplifting way to introduce the subject of childhood cancer to kids aged six to eight. More broadly, it is also a powerful promise to anyone on a difficult journey that where there is life, there is hope.

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