Cherries and Cherry Pits
Posted by Tracy Poff on February 17, 2014
Cherries and Cherry Pits is a 1986 picture book by Vera B. Williams.
The book opens:
Bidemmi lives on the floor above me. We visit back and forth a lot. Bidemmi loves to draw, so when she opens the door I’m often standing there with a marker of some kind or color she doesn’t have yet.
The narrator spends the rest of the book with Bidemmi, who tries out her new marker. As she draws, Bidemmi tells stories about what she’s drawing. “THIS is the door to the subway…” she begins, and tells a story about a man who brings a bag of cherries home to his children, which they eat, and spit out the pits.
Then another picture, and another story: “THIS is the train seat. And THIS is a tiny white woman sitting on the train seat…” begins a story about a woman who returns to her little one-room home with a bag of cherries, which she shares with her pet parrot, and they spit out the pits.
Another picture, another story: “THIS is a shoelace. And THIS is a running shoe. It’s going to be purple and white…” begins a story about a boy (who “looks a lot like my brother”, “is tall like my brother”, “has glasses like my brother”, “And when he smiles you can see the space between his big front teeth like my brother’s.”) who brings a cherry home to his little sister, and warns her not to forget to spit out the pit.
Finally, she begins another picture, and another story, to tie them all together: “THIS is me. And THIS is my station. I have to walk up the stairs one at a time…” begins a story about Bidemmi buying a bag of cherries, and eating them on her way home–and saving the pits. When she gets home, she plants the pits, which grow ever so slowly: “And all the time, cherries will be growing right under these leaves, so tiny and green no one even notices them. But I work hard. I come out every single day to chase away the blue jays that are trying to steal the cherries. I chase away the dogs that try to use the yard for their business and the kids who try to carve initials on the tree.”
Finally, the cherries are ripe, and her neighbors come out: “There are enough cherries for every single one of them. And even for their friends from Nairobi and Brooklyn, Toronto and St. Paul, who come down in these airplanes.” They eat the cherries and spit out the pits and “THIS cherry pit and THIS cherry pit and all the cherry pits start to grow until there is a whole forest of cherry trees right on our block.”
This is a lovely little picture book. The frame story is illustrated in watercolors, and the drawings that Bidemmi makes to illustrate the stories she tells are done in marker. The book actually ends with a nice picture of watercolor-Bidemmi standing beside marker-Bidemmi, which I should have scanned, but didn’t. Sorry! I do hate opening books up wide to scan them, and I believe I’ve abused this one enough.
Anyway, this was a fun read, and good for me since I needed something simple and pleasant, after the last couple of books I’ve read. Picture books are wonderful, since they’re exactly what it says on the tin: art and stories together. Something you can enjoy in several different ways, and short enough to read whenever you like, too!
Cherries and Cherry Pits can be had quite cheaply, so if it sounds like your kind of book, do pick up a copy.