Cheese Belongs to You!

Cheese Belongs to You! illus. by Viviane Schwarz. 32p. Candlewick. Nov. 2013. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6608-8. LC 2012947827.
PreS-Gr 2—This cumulative tale about a pack of rats vying, in Darwinian fashion, for some cheese is a zany riff on the familiar "mouse takes the cheese" refrain. A sweet little rat, bow tied on her tail, runs headlong into some cheese, which, by rat law, belongs to her. But she is one-upped by a bigger rat, which is one-upped by an even bigger rat, and so on as quicker, stronger, hairier, dirtier, and scarier gangs of rats all dominate in their conquest of the cheese. Ultimately, these selfish interests lead to the rats' collective implosion, and the cheese once more belongs to…the little rat, and she offers to share it with everyone. A peaceable feast ensues. Pencil and digitally colored drawings, rendered in muted shades of red and blue, portray dozens of individual rodents in endless, hilarious detail. A bright yellow digital photograph of the coveted piece of Swiss cheese rounds out the primary-color palette, lending a visual focal point to the artwork on every spread. The large font stands in bold counterpoint to the finely wrought illustrations. With its spare, repetitive language, oddball humor, and just enough "ick" factor, this tale is sure to entertain young children in a group read-aloud while offering a satisfying lesson on the value of sharing.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT

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