In Carolyn Richardson Durham’s charming picture book, Mr. Peacock is a proud bird who lives on a plantation in Half-Way Tree village on St. Kitts Island. He struts around the plantation coercing the other animals to compliment him. When they agree that he is magnificent, Mr. Peacock responds with comments like, “If I were as ugly as you, I’d go and hide.” Finally, the peacock meets a monkey who points out the peacock’s ugly feet. Mr. Peacock’s pride disappears when he realizes he, like the other animals, is not perfect.
Durham’s retelling of the Caribbean fable uses fun and age-appropriate language for the picture book set. The story is brought to life by Joyce Richardson-Melech’s engaging, if somewhat childlike, ink-and-colored pencil drawings (which are reminiscent of Looney Tunes cartoon characters). She captures the emotions of pride, shock, hurt, and jealousy in the facial expressions and body postures of the animals.
She also uses the sun as a silent narrator who tells a story-within-the-story. The sun witnesses how Mr. Peacock’s behavior hurts the other animals. His facial expressions show that he is not happy with the peacock. From indignation, to shock, to sympathy for the other animals, the sun provides a prompt that parents might use to discuss hurt feelings and the need to say “I’m sorry.” And young children will feel let in on the secret when the sun winks at them as Mr. Peacock walks away in shame on the last page.
This sister author/illustrator team has created a delightful picture book that will appeal to both parents and young children.