Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MACARONI AND CHEESE by Stacie Isabella Turk


Volume 1

by Stacie Isabella Turk illustrated by Gary SolomonMike Muffins

Publisher: Ribbonhead

Three stories showcase being grateful and thinking outside the box in Turk’s debut collection, with color and black-and-white illustrations by debut artists Solomon and Muffins.

Does your brain have a committee of voices judging you? Do you ever suspect that your neighbors are aliens, content to live humdrum lives? Are you so grumpy and grouchy that you forget to be grateful? These are the types of questions asked by the three tales in this book. In “Sabrina and Her Committee,” a young girl with very long hair and a huge imagination discovers small voices, nestled in her hair, which criticize her. Eventually she finds the smaller voice of her heart, Grace, which teaches her to love herself. Unfortunately for Sabrina, her schoolteacher is the loudest of the critics outside her head, judging her penmanship, her focus, her art, and her appearance. Indeed, the teacher’s verbal abuse will surely elicit commentary from adult readers. Turk captures Sabrina’s genuine worries very well, though adults may wish that the character focused less on being “pretty enough.” Solomon’s brightly colored ink-and-paint illustrations reveal Sabrina’s big personality. “Mediocrity,” a list of rules for identifying aliens from the “planet, ADEQUATE from the universe, MEDIOCRE,” will make readers think about whether the people they encounter every day are merely sleeping through average lives; it’s accompanied by Solomon’s grayscale cartoons. “Grumpy, Grouchy, and Grateful,” featuring boldly colored, humorous illustrations from Muffins, tells of three caterpillar brothers, only one of whom bothers to look at the world around him and hope for a brighter future. Each story offers opportunities for young readers to identify themselves and recognize attitudes and behaviors that may make it hard to succeed and be happy. Turk uses an accessible vocabulary in the sometimes–text-dense stories and creates fun characters with whom children will empathize. The varying art styles fit their stories well and are sure to draw interested browsers. The book also includes an audio CD (not reviewed).

A compilation that’s best for libraries looking to increase their offerings about positive thinking and gratitude.