cover image Pickin' Peas

Pickin' Peas

Margaret Read MacDonald. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027235-7

MacDonald's (A Parent's Guide to Storytelling) slight retelling of a Southern folktale centers on an energetic African American girl and the rabbit she discovers helping himself to the peas in her garden. As the young gardener sings her way through the rows of pods (""Pickin' peas. Put 'em in my pail""), the crafty animal does the same (""Pickin' peas. Land on my knees!"") until she realizes he is following her. Grabbing the intruder below the ears, the child takes him indoors and stuffs him into a small box, where she threatens to keep him ""till pea-picking season is OVER."" Before long, however, the critter outwits his captor and, in a rather anticlimactic ending, escapes to the outdoors, where he chants, ""Gonna eat all I want/ 'Cause you can't catch me!"" Cummings's (Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon!) brash, contemporary art seems at odds with the folksy quality of the tale (whose heroine is referred to only as ""Little Girl""). Slim pickings here. Ages 4-8. (June)