Peter in Blueberry Land – Elsa Beskow

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

I did not read this book as a child, but I just know little Jax would have absolutely loved it.

Unfortunately it woefully fails all our metrics. Not only does it fail the Bechdel, but it has some pretty clear gender role distinctions going on. The Blueberry king’s sons are rambunctious ball-playing boys with the clothes stained with juice, while the Mrs. Cranberry and her five daughters are clean and lined up nicely and gather fruit in ever such a ladylike way.

There also isn’t a single person in this story who isn’t totally lily-white.

Nevertheless, I found myself pretty much utterly charmed by this book. The story isn’t much to look at – Peter goes berry picking, gets sucked into a magical world of berry people, has a few adventures, then finds himself back where he started, but with two baskets of berries to ensure him it wasn’t “all a dream”.

The pictures are frikkin’ adorable. Even the size of the book lends itself to how cute and lovely it is. It veers very close to twee, but somehow I (who usually have little time for twee) found myself mostly just charmed. C also gave it a thumbs up.

I mean, look, this book challenges exactly zero stereotypes, the story is very simple, there is nothing here that’s going to blow up the status quo. But it’s very cute. And re,arkably charming and guileless.

Worth a read.


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