Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
Please Grow Away is a heartwarming children's book written and illustrated by Amy Gerardi! It is co-written by Brenda Umbrianna.
Please Grow Away surprised us with the weight and substance of its message. Speaking of that message, the book focuses on the subject of putting aside differences and giving people a chance, even when you may not agree on things or get along initially. The book also emphasizes kindness—unconditional kindness. The book tells us that we should be kind to and understanding of others even when they're unkind to us.
A lot of unkindness and hatred really comes from ignorance. It can also come from an improper or unfair displacement of anger and negative feelings on other people
We see that the lemons in this book are ignorant and unaccepting of the grapes simply because the grapes are different. In a sense, the lemons in this book are also displacing a lot of their own insecurities and ill feelings on the grapes. The lemons have a lot to be unhappy about. They're bigger, their skins of inedible, and they aren't normally eaten alone the same as the grapes are. So, there might be a bit of jealousy in play here.
This has applications for humans as well. We have a lot of the same feelings and insecurities. For example, someone may resent someone else because they perceive them as leaner or more attractive. It's easy to ignore the fact that just being leaner or more attractive doesn't necessarily make a person “better” or even “happier.” Sometimes, the opposite can be true. It's not fair to judge someone just because of the way they look. It's not fair to judge someone without giving them a chance and getting to know them. That seems to be at the heart and center of this book.
Acceptance, tolerance, and kindness are powerful lessons for children to learn. In that sense, this book really, really shines!
The illustrations were a source of contention among the judges with regards to this book. The illustrator employed a very clever and unique tactic of subtly increasing the amount of color of the book as it goes along. It's similar to COLORWORLD by Anthony Richichi in that sense. Also, the illustrator uses color (and a lack of color) selectively, to emphasize certain things. Usually, the color follows the action between the key characters, the lemons and the grapes. There were times when we thought that the less colorful parts of the book might not appeal to children so much, appearing a bit unfinished. Another thing that was a bit troublesome about the illustrations was that it can be a little strange to see anthropomorphic fruits like this, especially with the lemons often making angry, unsettling, or upsetting faces. Now, with that said, you could argue that Veggie Tales found a way to make that work. Something about the faces of the lemons really bothered us. There were times when they were a bit too human. We wondered if it might be an uncanny valley sort of problem.
Still, the illustrations were still quite impressive, especially since they're also from the lead writer. There's a squirrel in this book that actually looks professionally drawn! So, Amy Gerardi clearly has some artistic skills.
The writing is also a big plus in this book. The writing is extremely simple and easy for kids, parents, and teachers to follow. It's rhythmic, and it accomplishes what it needs to.
Check it out here!