Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman

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Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Price
Reviewed by Ruth Price
Summary: A collection of amusing, warm-hearted short stories, often with a twist, that would appeal to confident readers 9+ up to early teens. There's a moral wrapped in each story, but never pompously delivered.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 978-0141324111

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I had never heard of Morris Gleitzman before reading this collection of short stories, but it seems he is a highly prolific and popular writer for children based in Australia. I can certainly see why he has a large following. He is an original writer, who makes page-turning stories, often with a twist. But I confess, what I liked most, was their old-fashioned, cosy morality and the niceness of the characters.

In Give Peas A Chance, we have a collection of moral tales for the modern age. While they are very accessibly written, at the heart of each is a lesson about friendship, family, etc. I am not a huge fan of 'escapist' or 'fantasy' literature. Many children's writers seem to write stories that are forced to remove children from the ordinary world in order to make them interesting. Not so Morris Gleitzman. Here we have, in the main, ordinary children with ordinary problems, who do often small, yet in their way, extraordinary things to shape the lives around them.

These stories are a mixed bunch, and some I found more plausible than others. However, I am looking with a jaundiced eye and feel a younger reader would enjoy the more fantastic elements too and not worry about plot holes or plausibility. While I found Greenhouse Gas and the title story a little less authentic than the rest, the writing is fun and the humour always present. I had a number of favourites amongst this collection: Odd Socques – a tale to warn parents about foisting bizarre names on their children; Think Big – helping your mum realise how lovely she is, and ensuring there are sausage and onion sandwiches for all; Paparazzi – an original tale of friendship and lipstick. As a writer, Gleitzman has a light touch. Although he touches on serious issues, his sense of fun is never absent. He even pokes fun at the art of short story writing in So Unjust.

Many of these stories would make excellent end-of-the-day reading in Y6 classrooms, or in special assemblies, dealing as they often do with overcoming odds, being kind, considerate and honest. I hope that doesn't make them sound priggish – serious issues are skilfully treated so they don't sound like moralising.

Thanks to Puffin Books for providing The Bookbag with a copy of this fun short story collection. I wish these stories had been around for me to enjoy when I was younger!

For more comforting and positive writing for this age group, wrapped in humour, try How To Write Really Badly by Anne Fine or, for its title alone The Day My Bum Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths.

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Buy Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman at


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