Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Pipkin of Pepper by Helen Cooper

A Pipkin of Pepper
by Helen Cooper
Ages 4-8
Topics: Friendship, cooking, being lost

In this sequel to Pumpkin Soup, Squirrel, Cat, and Duck run out of salt for their delicious soup and have to go shopping in the City. Duck’s never been to the City before and is both frightened and excited by all the shops and towers. Then he sees the pepper store and has a great idea – wouldn’t pepper be a delicious addition to the soup? While Duck dreams of pepper, his friends continue on to the salt shop, and Duck finds himself lost in the city. Fortunately, a kindly mother Hen takes care of Duck and helps him find his friends … with a little help from six police dogs with megaphones

The story addresses the common childhood fear and experience of being lost and reminds how to avoid this predicament (hold on tight) and what to do if you find yourself lost (stay where you lost contact and wait). While the solution will seem over the top to adults (the Hen calls 911 and six police dogs with megaphones search the city for Cat and Squirrel, then fly them home as they’ve missed the last bus), the drama will make sense to young children and provide them with a comfortable resolution.

The three friends have a caring, quarrelsome relationship that is as warm and winning as the autumnal illustrations. The pink-blue exotic City is a striking departure from the little white country cabin and pastoral landscape of Pumpkin Soup. The illustrations provide wonderful details to share – the ‘try pepper today’ message on the back of the bus taking them to the city, the white city rabbit with a large pocket watch, and a lost and crying Duck’s reaction to being offered a packet of pepper to cheer him up: “WA?”.

Helen Cooper was a music teacher before she started writing children’s books. She has won two Kate Greenaway Medals for Pumpkin Soup and The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed and was short-listed for her book Tatty Ratty.

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Read review of Pumpkin Soup


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