Fruits Book Alternate Cover

i/  100 Best Books 1998 Edition                      
Young book trust
ISBN 0 85353 473 X

From half a pawpaw, to five jew-plums (“jew-plum’s me fav’rit”), through to ten bananas, this girl’s love of Caribbean fruits is so infectious you can almost taste the juice dribbling down your chin. A sumptuous book, with rich, vibrant illustrations. IL4-8/RA6+


ii/  A rough guide to children’s books 0-5 years
by Nicholas Tucker (2002)
ISBN 1 85828 787 1


Here is a counting book with a difference. It’s set in the Caribbean and uses words such as “guinep” (a small fruit) and “smaddy” (somebody), all explained in a short, accompanying glossary. It’s pictures and rhymes will be as enticing to non-Caribbean readers as the ten different fruits that crop up in a story revolving around a resourceful bigger girl and a little sister determined not to be left out.


Each page shows another step in the plot to get hold of some of the fruit against the wishes of parents, who are only ever seen in the background.

Will it be a question ofpicking oneguinep from the tree and coming back at night to take the “two ripe guava pon the shelf”, or stealing just one big bite from the “sweet-sop” in a fruit basket left by a temptingly open window? All these ingenious plans finally collapse when, after eating ten bananas the older girl – now looking distinctly queasy – begs her sister to  “Mek me lie down on me bed, quick,/ Lawd, ah feeling really sick.” Her little sister who has eaten much less, looks on with sympathy mixed with curiosity.


With wonderful illustrations by David Axtell, full of sun and sly, good humour, this book is a reminder that one way of learning how to count has always involved either something being eaten or – in the case of fruit stones – something left at the side of the plate.



iii/  Simply the best books for children 0-7
(CLPE) Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
ISBN 1 8772267 32 7 (2003)

Alphabets and counting books

A wryly amusing Caribbean counting poem in Jamaican Creole. Careless adults leave delicious fruits around for a girl to sample and share with her sister. The vibrant pictures extend the story of the young narrator and her enormous appetite.


Books for keeps
Poetry *****
5-8 Infant/Junior

This is a delightful counting picture book for the very young based on a ‘dialect’ poem set in the Caribbean and illustrated using Caribbean fruits. There is a glossary describing most of the fruits featured in the book as readers/users not born in the Caribbean would be unlikely to be familiar
with such fruits as guineps, jackfruits, jew-plums, naseberries, Otaheiti apples or sweet-sops.


There is no reason however why the language and the exotic nature of the fruits should limit the book’s appeal. On the contrary it should be viewed as a celebration of the vigour and flexibility of the English language and the diversity of fruits to be found on the planet, and the very strangeness of the fruits themselves should stimulate discussion – very nostalgic discussion when the Caribbean then teacher/parent is involved. At the very best it could encourage a shopping expedition in search of these delicious fruits as many are beginning to appear in shops and market stalls in inner city areas and some are even to be found in supermarket shops. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that bananas (also featured in the book) were a rare site in Britain fifty years ago! David Axtell’s well-researched, sumptuous illustrations bring the book alive with vivid colours and give a warm authentic Caribbean feel. He uses the clever device of two Caribbean girls at play to give narrative context to the introduction of the fruits.


Times Educational Supplement 13th JUNE 1997
‘Fruitful texts you can count on’
by Naomi Lewis (extract from)

 Little miss Muffet counts to ten (Emma Chichester Clark)
Fruits (Valerie Bloom)
My Arctic 1,2,3 (Annick press)
Crazy creatures counting (Hannah Reidy)

‘Fruits, though entirely different, also has a story and verse. It is a big friendly book cheerfully funny, following two young Caribbean sisters (they look about nine and three) Through unauthorised feasts of one to 10 native fruits.
The older girl keeps us informed in saucy , spirited rhymes. “Two ripe guava pon the shelf. I know , I hide them there meself. When night come an’ it get dark Me an’ them will have a talk.” Or, if you like: “Four red apple near me chair. Who so careless put them there? Them don’ know how me love apple. Well, thank God fe silly people.” By nine the going’s hard. By

ten (bananas) she has given up – “Lawd, ah feeling really sick.” Six or seven year olds will enjoy this scene. (They won’t I trust, still need the counting part.)

Full-page paintings, oil on canvas ,reflect the story totally.