Valdemar is a young wolf who absolutely hates peas. The problem is his papa won’t give him an ice cream until he’s eaten them. What will he do?
Yuck! Peas ‘taste so green and round and pointless’. Valdemar may hate peas with a passion, but he loves fish fingers; he wolfs them down – whole – before letting out an almighty SHLURP! Valdemar’s Peas by author/illustrator Maria Jönsson will have many readers laughing from the outset. The story takes place at dinner time in Valdemar’s family home and features a young male wolf, his nappy-clad younger sibling Lynn and their papa. While Lynn obediently tucks into the contents of her plate, Valdemar stops short of eating his peas. In an exchange that will resonate with many readers, his papa tries to convince Valdemar that eating veggies will give him long fine ears, before resorting to the time-old tactic of offering him a reward: chocolate ice cream. And what’s more, the clever young wolf wins his prize without eating a single pea.
There is much to enjoy in this picture book, especially the humorous portrayal of mealtimes with young children, which will be all too familiar in many households. The characterisation of the two young wolves – developed through text and striking illustrations (largely) in black and white – is brilliant. While Lynn remains cute and carefree throughout, Valdemar is by turns greedy, furtive, angry, cheeky, outraged and satisfied. My children, 4 and 7, think the story is hilarious, but we’ve had a few discussions about Valdemar’s behaviour and whether or not he deserved to receive that ice cream!
Valdemar’s Peas is a delicious portrayal of mealtime antics in a young family. If you are looking for a story with bags of humour, fabulous characterisation and a touch of naughtiness, then say ‘yes peas’ to this one.
Valdemar’s Peas by Maria Jönsson, translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko Press, 2018).
Maria Jönsson is an award-winning illustrator of more than 30 children’s books. She has also published a number of books as both author and illustrator. She lives in Högänas, Sweden.
Julia Marshall is the CEO and founder of Gecko Press, an independent publisher of ‘curiously good children’s books from around the world’ based in Wellington, New Zealand. She worked in Sweden for 12 years and has translated many Swedish children’s titles into English.
This is an edited version of a post originally published on Planet Picture Book in July 2018.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com