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The Princess and the Greedy Pea

Leigh Hodgkinson
Age 3-7 years

The rhyme There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly meets the story of The Princess and the Pea in this enjoyable picturebook. One pea in a huge bowl of peas suddenly announces that he is SO hungry! He proceeds to consume anything edible he can find including bread, soup and cheese. After moving onto inedible items (ie the table) he decides to have a break. He chooses to sleep in the bedroom of a very grumpy princess, hiding under her pile of quilts. As expected, when the princess goes to bed, she is uncomfortable and can’t sleep. Eventually the princess decides she is hungry and before long finds the pea in her bed and you can guess how the story ends…

Echoing the traditional rhyme, this version has a cumulative text and an enjoyable rhythm; young readers will enjoy joining in once they are familiar with the story. This is a book with lots of humour in the text and illustrations. The book is beautifully designed, including the varied font, the word ‘soup’ for example, is deliciously drippy.


Share the story

Read aloud
Read (or sing!) the story aloud to your child. Encourage children to join in if they want to.

Join in
You could take turns on different lines as you read or tell the story. For children beginning to read, point out the names of the foods printed in bold text.

Talk about the story
◼︎Does this story remind your child of other stories or rhymes they know?
◼︎There are lots of words for eating in the story, see how many you can collect together ( eg gobble, wolf, munch)
◼︎Spot the cat on each of the pages, what might he/she be thinking?
◼︎Why might the princess be so grumpy

Things to make and do

Test your memory
Can you remember the rhyme in the book or the traditional rhyme on which it is based? See the link to an animation of it below. Have a go at reciting or singing the rhyme together. You could try this anywhere, eg in the bath or on the way to school. It doesn’t matter if you forget the order or make some of it up – just have fun with it and perhaps you will create your own version.

The cat’s version
A cat can be seen watching what the pea is up to. Talk together about what the cat might be thinking. Fold a large piece of paper into six or eight sections. Draw a picture of the cat with a thought bubble in each section. Help your child to write the cat’s thoughts at different points in the story.

Write a food poem
Make a pile of small pieces of paper. On separate pieces of paper help your child to write some of the food names in the story and on others the different words for eating.

Once you have listed them try to add more food words and if you can more words for eating.

Now try putting them together, a food word and an eating word in different ways to make a list poem – this might be the same as the story or completely different. Once you are satisfied with your list poem stick the pieces of paper onto a large sheet or paper or newspaper and  read it out loud together.

Find out more

Find out more about Leigh Hodgkinson
Read more picturebooks by Leigh Hodgkinson, titles include:
Pencil Dog
Are you sitting comfortably?
Goldilocks and the Three Potties
Troll Swap
Colin and the Wrong Shadow

Watch an animation of the traditional rhyme

Find out about Anderson’s tale about The Princess and the Pea

Read Mini Grey’s version, The Pea and the Princess.