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The Enormous Pineapple

‘The Enormous Pineapple’, published by Oxford University Press, is ENORMOUSLY exciting for me.  Why?  Because it’s my first educational picture book.

OK, obviously I have a bit of explaining to do.   A bit of background.

I write picture books for ‘trade’ publishers. 

And I write pupil books, or readers for ‘educational’ publishers. 

‘Trade’ books are generally sold in bookshops and online.   You might have certain books in a series, but they generally exist on their own.   You usually submit an original idea to a trade publisher.

These are some of my trade picture books.

‘Educational’ reading schemes are normally sold directly from the publishers to schools.  They usually consist of lots of small books, all carefully levelled within a scheme.  They’re generally commissioned by an editor.  The language is structured to support children as they learn to read.  

Here are some of my educational books.

For many years I worked in-house as a commissioning editor for Heinemann Educational and Oxford University Press. I remember feeling so excited and proud when my youngest child started school, brought home some books on which I’d worked, and actually learnt to read with them!

Anyway.  Educational publishers usually produce lots of small, levelled readers.  So I was thrilled when my editor told me that one of my ideas was going to be produced as a picture book within their new Readerful series.  

The Enormous Pineapple is an absolute beauty. It’s a belter.  It’s BIGGER than any other picture book I’ve had published! 

And…it’s sold directly to schools to teach children how to read, but it’s also available online, too.    Which is why I’m so excited.  Because I want my books to reach as many children as possible. 

Why an enormous pineapple?    Well, I love retelling and twisting fairy tales and traditional tales.  My Very Little series features classic fairy tales with toddler heroines, who shake up traditional stories (but still, of course, have a Happy Ever After!).   

So I got to thinking about the traditional tale of The Enormous Turnip, and what would happen if you chose something different than a turnip to pull up out of the ground.   And what sort of difficult fruit or vegetable could you choose, to make it even harder to pull up?     

Around the same time, I saw pineapples growing in one of the glasshouses of the Oxford Botanical Garden.  I was fascinated that one plant grew just one pineapple, and that it could take years to fruit.   They grow on the ground, in splendid isolation – so different from other fruits which dangle from bushes or trees in huge numbers. 

And then I thought – how annoying and prickly would an enormous PINEAPPLE be to pull up from the ground?  And how patient would you have to be to grow one?    (Elena, in the story, has to wait for two years.)

I decided to set my story in Costa Rica, which produces large quantities of the pineapples we eat today. The fabulous Juliana Oakley has done wonderful illustrations for the story which show the lushness of the Costa Rican landscape, and she’s brought Elena, her family and neighbours to brilliant life. 

Now the book is published, I’ve gone into schools and asked children to draw their own enormous fruit or vegetable!  It’s fantastic seeing all these new stories coming to life. 

I hope you find a delicious read! 🍍💛