Princess Pistachio and the Pest Reviews

Kirkus **Starred Review**Princess Pistachio and the Pest by Marie-Louise Gay, translated by Jacob Homel

“Princess Pistachio Shoelace’s summer vacation is not starting out on a high note. She has big plans to meet with her friends to search for treasure. But her mother insists that she must take her little sister, Penny, to the park. Penny is delighted, but Pistachio is definitely feeling put-upon. Penny, dressed in a bunny hat and a cape and perched in a wagon filled with toys and the dog, exhorts Pistachio to “giddy up.” The day goes from bad to worse, as Penny manages to cause a great deal of trouble, especially when Pistachio has momentary lapses of attention. Penny sneaks fruit from the grocer, Mr. Pomodoro, and Pistachio is blamed. Penny climbs a wall and falls off, into the garden of Mrs. Oldtooth, the neighborhood witch. When Penny swims in the park fountain and pulls out some coins, Pistachio is blamed again. It has been a decidedly unroyal day, and her frustration is compounded by their mother’s clueless reaction. In four breathless, fast-paced chapters, Gay once again weaves a frantically funny tale with deliciously named characters, while subtly recognizing some underlying concerns regarding sibling responsibility and difficulties with adult-child communication. Descriptive and age-appropriate language flows naturally and is in perfect tandem with the brightly hued illustrations that depict redheaded, freckle-faced Pistachio’s every changing emotion. Young readers will cheer for her. Long live Princess Pistachio. (Early reader. 4-8)”

School Library Journal

“It is the first day of summer vacation, and Pistachio has big plans with her friends. There are caverns to explore in the cemetery! But Pistachio’s plans are thwarted when her mom tells her she must take her baby sister Penny to the park instead. A grumpy Pistachio and an exuberant Penny, wearing a superman cape and bunny ears, no less, head off to the park—and a series of mishaps happen along the way. This entertaining transitional reader is perfectly suited for children ready to try chapter books. Translated from French, the text is rollicking and descriptive, offering strong vocabulary words such as careens, ecstatic, and flabbergasted. Gay’s pen-and-ink illustrations are awash with soft watercolors in blues, purples, and warm yellows, allowing Pistachio’s orange hair to pop off the pages. Penny is the perfect complement to Pistachio—full of energy and a daredevil side that keeps her big sister on her toes at all times.

VERDICT Fans of other high-spirited girl characters like Junie B. Jones and Clementine will fall in love with Princess Pistachio.”


“Summer vacation gets off to a rough start when Mom insists that Pistachio take her little sister Penny to the park. As she pulls Penny along in a wagon, Pistachio lets her mind wander off. Big mistake. Unsupervised, Penny pinches fruit from the grocer’s stand, wades in the park fountain, and climbs over a wall into scary Mrs. Oldtooth’s garden. What could possibly make Pistachio volunteer for babysitting the next day? A little exaggerated for dramatic and comic effect, the story is nonetheless enjoyable, while lively ink-and-watercolor illustrations brighten every page. This early reader book continues the broad theme of sibling relationships that runs through Gay’s work from the Stella and Sam picture books to the Travels with My Family middle-grade series.”

CM Magazine

“…Young readers making the transition to chapter books will once again be thrilled to read about the adventures of intrepid Pistachio and her lovable little sister Penny. The text is easy to read, but challenging enough to engage young readers who will definitely be able to relate to the action in the story. Gay’s narration is full of dynamic descriptions: ‘Pistachio stands there, like a statue, her mouth open and her cheeks burning red.’ (p. 23)
The illustrations provide a great deal of interesting information for readers as well. Readers are able to see Pistachio’s frustration and anger, Penny’s enthusiasm and joy, and their mother’s love for her children…

This book can definitely be used as a read-aloud for early emergent readers while fluent readers can read it themselves. Young readers and their teachers or caregivers will enjoy discussing many interesting topics while reading Princess Pistachio and the Pest, including family relationships, personal responsibilities, friendships, legal issues and stereotypes. Highly Recommended.
—Myra Junyk

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“Princess Pistachio is elated to be out of school and starting summer vacation. She has big plans with friends for the first day, all of which are dashed in an instant when her mother insists that she take her younger sister Penny to the park so that she can finish her work. An exciting day exploring a cavern in the cemetery has now transformed into a boring excursion to the park with her annoying baby sister.

The day proves to be anything but boring however. Beginning with Penny’s display of kleptomania at the grocers, followed by a disappearing act, near fatal accident and an encounter with Oldtooth, the witch in the park, Penny keeps Princess Pistachio hopping all day long. Seeing Pistachio exhausted and frustrated by the end of the day, Mom relents and offers to bring in a babysitter for the following day. When the pair hear who she has in mind however, they quickly decide they can fare better on their own.

This book is full of adorable illustrations that, along with the text, clearly capture both the frustrations and fondness older siblings have for their younger charges. Sure to be a big hit with young readers just graduating from picture books to their first chapter books.”

National Reading Campaign

“In Princess Pistachio (2014), Governor General’s Award winning author and illustrator, Marie-Louise Gay introduced a redheaded spitfire of a character. The sassy and spirited Pistachio Shoelace returns for another escapade in Princess Pistachio and the Pest.

…Marie Louise Gay’s impish pen and ink drawings have plenty of humourous details, such as Penny’s cute bunny-ear hat that belies her penchant for trouble. In small vignettes, Pistachio’s daydreams are brought to life as she shines a flashlight on imaginary discoveries of bats and stalactites.

Originally published in French, this edition is translated by Gay’s son Jacob Homel. Chock full of vivid, out-of-the-ordinary descriptions, like ‘Pistachio’s heart falls to her belly button,’ this playful chapter book will capture the interest of beginning readers.”

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Kids’ Book Buzz

“A little girl named Pistachio wants to explore a cave with her friends, but instead, her mother wants her to take her little sister to the park. Pistachio thinks that is going to be so boring. First, she gets accused of being a thief, which is so embarrassing. Then, she falls into a witch’s garden and almost gets turned into a toad. Worst of all, she gets kicked out of the park because a warden thinks she meant to take money from the fountain, but it was her little sister, Penny. Everything terrible that happened that day was all Penny’s fault. But it was not boring. When she tells her mother what happened, her mom decides to call someone to look after them, since it’s too much for Pistachio. She calls the witch!  Pistachio is horrified. Even though she hated her day with her sister, she tells her mother not to worry. She’s sure they will have fun together.

I really liked this book. It’s hilarious, and it’s a short chapter book with pictures. It’s very exciting too. No book could be boring with witches, police, and thieves, especially not this one.”
—Reviewed by Paloma, Age 9

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