Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas
It’s time again for me to review one of this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2016 Shortlisted Book for Early Childhood. This is one of three books that Aaron Blabey had in the Notable list this year, you can see my review of Pig the Fibber and I’ll be reviewing I Need A Hug as well.
Brian is not your ‘normal’ piranha…he likes to eat peas and plums, while the other piranhas would rather eat knees and bums (Blabey has gone for the best possible rhymes for children in this age range). I have never read this book without some laughs, and I often laugh. I enjoy this brand of rhyming humour. Plus, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that talked about silverbeet and I love silverbeet (we always used it whenever a recipe called for spinach and it’s really good steamed with some cabbage and carrots…but this isn’t the recipe review).
The piranhas get rather angry about Brian’s constant request for them to eat fruits and vegetables…sound familiar? And Brian just wants them to try his fruit platter. In the end they do. On that double page spread when they do Brian looks so hopeful and the piranhas are attacking the fruit platter. The end is similar to another great ‘try it before you say you don’t like it’ book – Green Eggs and Ham, except the allure of eating bums might just be too great for these piranhas.
Looking at the pictures of Brian against the other group of piranhas it’s interesting to note the way Blabey has distinguished the two – Brian’s eyes are less red, his skin is a slightly different shade of green, his has no warts, and overall he looks happier. I would assume that this is a deliberate decision and an excellent example of how pictures can be used to send messages and why developing picture literacy is so important. The message here is a good one – fruits and vegetables are good for you, but encouraging children to be able to see what the picture is trying to get you to think assists when the message might be less positive.
One of my favourite things about the illustrations in this book are the expressions that Blabey gives Brian, and the way that that allows him to interact with the reader. I enjoy the humour of both the rhyme and the pictures and I really enjoy reading this book with children.
One thing to check out in this book that you might miss is just inside of the front cover. There is a delightful little blurb about piranhas and some information on them the goes from the honest to the slightly absurd.