Pomelo Begins to Grow

Ramona Badescu, trans. from the French by Claudia Bedrick, illus. by Benjamin Chaud. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-59270-111-7
The young elephant Pomelo is growing up, and this French pair, in their English-language debut, chronicle his doubts and questions, transferring onto his eraser-pink body and round eyes the anxieties that ordinary children have but rarely express. "[Pomelo's] a little worried that he won't grow equally all over," Badescu says, as Chaud supplies vignettes of Pomelo with an oversize ear here and an outsize leg there. When Pomelo "wonders what has to happen on the inside for him to grow on the outside," Chaud draws a cutaway view of Pomelo full of complex, mysterious machinery. And to demonstrate that growing up involves "having new experiences," Chaud shows Pomelo eating a hot pepper with fire roaring out of his mouth. Badescu is honest about young childhood's losses ("But seriously, does growing up mean one has to stop clowning around?") and encouraging about older children's joys ("[W]hen your old fears return you are able to laugh at them"). Chaud lavishes as much energy on the verdant backgrounds as on Pomelo; they're like Henri Rousseau's tropics. The whole makes for a quirky, delectable treat. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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