The Big Cheese

HarperCollins. (The Food Group). Nov. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063329508.
Gr 1-3–In their latest installment of “The Food Group” series, the dynamic duo introduces children to the complex emotions of pride and humility in one cheese-tastic package! Big Cheese is known throughout town for being the “biggest, cheesiest piece of cheddar around,” and they make sure everyone knows it. They boast and brag about their accomplishments far and wide, because they’ve never lost; the secret to success is only competing in what you can win! That is, until the fateful day when Wedge competes in the Cheese-cathalon (in which Big Cheese has placed first for years) and beats Big Cheese by a cheese-nose! As if that wasn’t surprising enough, Wedge seems humble about their win. Through talking with Wedge, Big Cheese goes on a transformative journey of examining how losses can lend perspective on what is most important. The clean and colorful illustrations match the signature style of the series. While sometimes a bit heavy handed in its discussion of SEL topics (“losing taught me about empathy and humility”), this entry is artfully arranged. It could be performed as a very discussible story time selection.
VERDICT This is a must-purchase for all libraries, especially those with a SEL focus.

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