Cheese Belongs to You!by Alexis Deacon, Viviane Schwarz
Rat Law says that if you’re a rat, cheese belongs to you. But there are exceptions. For example, if a big rat wants it, cheese belongs to him. Unless a bigger rat wants it, or a quicker one, or a stronger one. And if a big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rat wants it, well . . . where does it end? A tumble of cumulative adjectives and a frenzy of hungry critters build up to a final note of politeness in a book sure to satisfy kids’ appetites for zany humor.
“This is rat law,” opens this cheerful hymn to venality. “Cheese belongs to you.” (The omission of the definite article is, presumably, what a rat accent sounds like.) Schwarz (who previously worked with Deacon on A Place to Call Home) draws a dainty little rat with a bow tied around its tail jumping back in delight at the sight of a block of yellowy Swiss cheese. “Unless a big rat wants it,” Deacon continues sternly, as a larger rat moves the first one out of the way. “Then cheese belongs to him.” The text appears in authoritative block type above Schwarz’s softly crayoned drawings of progressively larger and more domineering “quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty” rats arguing, stealing, scheming, and chortling their way through the slowly building discourse on rat realpolitik. An all-out, rat-on-rat war erupts between a crew of slovenly pirate rats and a gang of top-hatted gangster rats, while the original rat finds a way to become the big cheese, so to speak. In the end, thankfully, civility prevails. Not since Ratatouille have rats been so unnerving yet gleefully entertaining. Ages 4–6. (Nov.)
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The illustrations ... are sure to produce squeals of fright and delight from readers. Surprisingly, there is a great lesson about sharing tucked neatly into the last pages, which gives this silly story a little extra heart. ... Any way that a young reader experiences this book, whether during individual reading or in a group, this will be fun.
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
Who knew cheese ownership could be so dangerous? This edgy picture-book primer on "rat law" begins simply enough: An expressively sketched rat with a bow on its tail contemplates a big wedge of bright orange Swiss cheese, displayed as a cutout photograph. It turns out that rat law has a number of exceptions: "Cheese belongs to you. // Unless a big rat wants it. Then cheese belongs to him. / Unless a bigger rat wants it. Then cheese belongs to her." One or more hungry rats is added as the pages turn, until entire gangs of nasty, bullying beasts mob the spreads. By the time "the biggest gang of the biggest, quickest, strongest, scariest, hairiest, dirtiest rat wants it," the book--sketched mostly in red pencil--swarms with teeth, claws and angry red eyes. The faint of heart may be too repelled by the revolting rats to keep reading, but it's a rare child who wouldn't be familiar with the aggressive thievery demonstrated here. The giant typeface, the cumulative nature of the fast-building list of adjectives, and the "spot the bow-tailed rat" game that's built in as the rats accumulate make this bold picture book a potentially hilarious read-aloud. Moral seekers, fear not: After the carnage, it is suggested that sharing cheese might be a more civilized option. An amusingly ferocious illustration of the benefits of sharing from the team behind the equally rodent-infested A Place to Call Home. (Picture book. 4-6)
- Candlewick Press
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 10.10(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 4 - 6 Years
Meet the Author
Alexis Deacon is the author of A Place to Call Home, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. He is also an acclaimed illustrator: Beegu and Jitterbug Jam, both of which he illustrated, were named as New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year. Alexis Deacon lives in London.
Viviane Schwarz is the author-illustrator of There Are Cats in This Book, which was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway medal, as well as There Are No Cats in This Book and The Sleepwalkers. She is also the illustrator of A Place to Call Home by Alexis Deacon. Viviane Schwarz lives in London.
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