Banana by Ed Vere

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Banana by Ed Vere

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A brilliantly executed story with only two words and some wonderful drawings which points up the benefits of courtesy and sharing. It's a brash, in-your-face book which conveys the message very gently.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: August 2007
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 978-0141500591

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Monkeys love bananas but there's bound to be trouble when one monkey has a banana and another hasn't. When one is an older monkey and the other not yet out of the proverbial short trousers it's an opportunity for Senior to show the way that things should be done. Junior begins with a joyful shout as he spots the fruit and then looks bewildered when it isn't immediately handed over. Most parents will realise that what's coming next is the full screaming-on-the-supermarket-floor tantrum, so bad that you can't even look. It's not until they calm down (even though there are tears running down their faces) that you can put a hand to your ear the better to hear that magic word which could have saved all the trouble.

If I had to think of one phrase to describe Ed Vere it's 'in-your-face'. Don't for a moment think that this book is subtle or delicate. It's brash and noisy even before you've opened the cover. The colours are vibrant with lime green, custard yellow, a pink that would leave a raspberry looking shameful and bright red predominating. Sometimes they all clash and fight it out on the floor. The text is, er, limited. Well, let's be honest - there are two words, but believe me, they are used brilliantly. You can tell a story with just two words and some wonderful drawings if you're Ed Vere.

The cleverness of the story is that it doesn't end when Junior says the magic word. It isn't a story about an adult rewarding a child once they've done the decent thing. It's about sharing, because once Senior has given up the banana, Junior might be happy but what about Senior? The story - all two words of it - is about being courteous and thinking about others.

I think all children go through that stage when they think that they can demand and get anything they want as of right. An unfortunate few don't realise until too late that you're not going to be liked if you act that way. Some will learn the hard way - from class mates most probably - that this isn't the way to behave. Ed Vere's book is a gentle way of getting a point across. There's no need to associate what Junior monkey does with a child's tantrums; no need to suggest that the child has any shortcomings at all. It's just a very simple and amusing way of allowing a child to absorb a point whilst still being able to laugh at Junior's antics. The drawings are deceptively simple, but there's a lot to discuss on every page - particularly Junior's expressions!

For another book with a subtle message you might like to look at Emma Chichester Clark's It Was You Blue Kangaroo or Julia Donaldson's Tyrannosaurus Drip.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of Banana to The Bookbag.

Before I finish I'd just like to be certain that we all know the magic word. Is it a) Abracadabra?! b) Alakazam?! or c)NOW?! as Mr Vere suggests on the back cover? Answers on a postcard please...

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Buy Banana by Ed Vere at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Banana by Ed Vere at


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Jill said:

It's "NOW", right? You know what'll happen if you say no!

Sue replied:

That's the one, Jill!