Maguire, Gregory

Cress Watercress

(1) 4-6 Illustrated by David Litchfield. In this richly imagined woodland adventure, a grieving rabbit family--Mama, Cress, and baby Kip (with stuffed carrot "Rotty" always in tow)--must leave their comfortable warren to start over without their lost Papa. Their new life gets off to an inauspicious start. Mama loses the map to Mr. Owl's tree, the "Broken Arms," home of their tiny new basement flat; and they must avoid hungry foxes and a snake disturbingly (and hilariously) known as the "Final Drainpipe." Everyone the rabbits encounter--from the outlandishly selfish skunk, Lady Agatha Cabbage, who wears a surly chinchilla around her neck, to the mix of residents in and around the Broken Arms--is well drawn, making for a memorable cast of creatures who sometimes quarrel but always look out for any neighbor in need. Dark and shimmery full-color digital illustrations build on the text's singular atmosphere. While the moon waxes and wanes, Cress launches herself into precarious predicaments in every chapter as she cycles through waves of grief, irritability, kindness, loneliness, and bravery. As Mama observes: "But, my darling Cress, the moon will grow back. It comes and goes. Just like sorrow." The rabbits settle into the rhythm of their imperfect but warm new community as the narrative deftly coaxes readers to a place of empathy for each character, including those who initially seemed forbidding or unlikable. With its brisk plot, witty details, and thought-provoking concepts, this gloriously illustrated chapter book makes an ideal read-alone or family read-aloud.


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