C.R. MUDGEON

This paean to the value of moderation, conveyed via a friendship story that will resonate with children, is just right for...

Young readers may not know beforehand what a "curmudgeon" is, but so many kids are creatures of habit they'll sympathize with this hidebound hedgehog.

Charcoal-and-watercolor illustrations are softly colored in moss green, tree-bark brown, yellow ocher, pale blue and dusty rose, appropriate to the woodsy setting. C.R. himself is appealing; cute in spite of himself, with his pointy spines sticking up like recalcitrant hair, emphasizing his prickly nature. Reminiscent of Ereth the porcupine from Avi's Poppy stories, C.R. is outwardly grumpy and suspicious of anything new. When Paprika the squirrel moves in nearby, she plants bright poppies, enthusiastically greets him—immediately assuming they're friends—and cooks spicy food, the smell of which makes C.R. sneeze. It's not until the tables are turned, and Paprika is subdued by a case of the "whooping whiffles," that C. R. breaks out of his rut to care for her, realizing that, in fact, he has made a friend. As he learns to share his tastes with her, he even spices things up a little: adding salt to his celery soup, lemon to his dandelion tea.

This paean to the value of moderation, conveyed via a friendship story that will resonate with children, is just right for any kid who's wary of new things, and maybe a bit shy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7906-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

THE BIG CHEESE

From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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