Pomelo Begins to Grow

Pomelo Begins to Grow


Written by Ramona Badescu
Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick

New York Times Editors' Choice and Notable Book of the Year for 2011

What happens as a little one begins to grow? Do parts of the body grow unequally? If the outside grows, does that mean the inside is changing too? Children love it when they begin to grow! But they also have questions and maybe even worry a little too. Pomelo Begins to Grow explores this rich material with playfulness and humor, without undercutting the importance of the questions.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-111-7
9.2" (W) x 12.8" (H) • 48 pages • HC

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New York Times Editors' Choice and Notable Book of the Year for 2011

★ "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 ('When 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." —STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

"I loved Pomelo Begins to Grow. Funny, smart and idiosyncratic, graceful and intuitive in a way that feels as much dreamed as written, Ramona Badescu’s tale (translated from the French) is less a story per se than a series of musings, a kind of ad hoc therapy session for those conflicted about getting older, which, in contemporary America, where middle-­aged men dress like skate punks and 20-something women covet face-lifts, means pretty much everyone. Badescu’s title character is a little garden elephant (distant relative to a lawn flamingo, I learned from an online garden-­supply catalog), who notices one morning that 'his favorite dandelion' seems unusually small. So too some strawberries, a pebble, a potato and an ant. Light bulb: Pomelo realizes it’s he himself who’s getting bigger." —Bruce Handy, The New York Times

"...Badescu’s endearingly anxious pachyderm mirrors the familiar impatience to grow up, the determination never to act like adults do, and the many other concerns ‘medium’-sized people face. The author and illustrator demonstrate a brilliant marriage of text and illustration. Chaud’s charming paintings of Pomelo in his landscape of dandelions, strawberries, and smiling potatoes–set simply against oversize white pages–breathe life and humor into Badescu’s big-picture questions, while playing with scale. Youngsters will laugh at the silly depictions of Pomelo as he grows unevenly, while adults will smile at his joyful exploration of a countryside dotted with asparagus trees, broccoli bushes, and sushi flowers as he learns to love foods that aren’t sweet. The imagery may remind some readers of the modern Japanese ultra-cute cartoon style, but the masterful execution—and Badescu’s universal subject matter—makes this a picture book that children will return to again and again." —School Library Journal


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