When she looked at the other pears on the tree, Portia felt ugly and alone. They were well shaped, with lovely skin. Even though she tried to hide, the farmer kept moving the leaves so the sun would shine. Those other "beautiful" pears let Portia know they thought she was ugly, too. Butterfly overheard those pears and told her to ignore them. Some days, a red robin came by the tree to join them. The three became friends. After the other pears fell victim to a hungry caterpillar and a little girl picking pears, the three friends remained.
This is a story that will resonate with readers in different ways at different ages. Young readers are likely to focus on the "bully" pears. Older readers will recognize Portia's feelings of sadness and lack of confidence. The metaphor is lovely, and the story is well written ... until it falls apart at the end.
A talking butterfly fit well with the fantasy yet "natural" surroundings of the story. Butterfly holding a mirror to help Portia see her beauty just didn't fit. That the readers could see her beauty is enough. Especially when on the next page, Portia says "this too will pass." What does that mean here at the end? That Portia will be ugly again? that she will rot and die? I'm not sure I want that kind of ending for my 4-year-old. Yes, the last page says Robin, Butterfly, and Portia will be friends for a long time "no matter how they look," but the author has already hinted that "this too will pass." I was SO enjoyed the story until the end.
Soft-color illustrations complement simple text about self-esteem, friendship, and luck. Portia's story is one that will grow with your reader.
A caterpillar eating pears is perfectly natural to the story, but some readers may be bothered by it since they are given "human" qualities.
This story about loving yourself and finding your friends is set in a garden.
This is a metaphor about friendship, growing up, and self-esteem. The written story ends with Portia, Butterfly, and Robin together as friends "for a very long time." Ask your reader about their friendship. What types of adventures will they have? What will happen in other seasons?
8 and Up
4 to 9
Borrow or skip. The illustrations are lovely and the story has a nice message. I'm just not sure about the ending.