The Child Cruncher

The Child Cruncher

by Mathilde Stein, Mies Van Hout

Being kidnapped is not as thrilling as one courageous girl had hoped.  Her big, ugly villain turns out to be an ordinary child cruncher.  What a disappointment! Instead of taking her on all sorts of adventures, he only wants to eat her up.  Luckily, she knows just what to do.


Being kidnapped is not as thrilling as one courageous girl had hoped.  Her big, ugly villain turns out to be an ordinary child cruncher.  What a disappointment! Instead of taking her on all sorts of adventures, he only wants to eat her up.  Luckily, she knows just what to do.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A wiry girl outwits a kidnapping ogre in this visually enticing story from the Netherlands. The twist is that the balance of power is really never in question: the girl is thrilled to be spirited away (it's a slow vacation day), and more than a little miffed when the pouting ogre reveals that all he wants to do is eat her ("He wasn't a nice villain at all! I'd been looking forward to many adventures, only to end up with an ordinary old child cruncher!"). She escapes, narrating her acts of derring-do with a wry disingenuousness ("You're all red in the face," she tells the ogre as he is shown entangled in a well-placed net. "You'd better take it easy now. Do sit down"). Van Hout (paired with Stein for Brave Ben), working in what seem to be primarily pastels, conjures up a series of magical environments-a not-quite-spooky forest bathed in the blue light of a giant moon, a lair rendered in murky, mottled lavender and a verdant backyard tricked out in the style of the Swiss Family Robinson. Full of fun. Ages 2-6. (Aug.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A bored young girl reports the thrill of being "kidnapped by a big ugly villain" as her distracted dad tells her to "Have fun." Off they dash on his horse to his den, where the villain stomps off to bed. The dissatisfied minx paints his wall, sure that makes him "too happy to speak." As he jumps up and down, roaring after her, she suggests breakfast, only to discover that what he crunches is children. "No, thank you," she declares. "I don't want to play with you." And away she races, as he is caught in the net she has set over the cave opening. She rides his horse past a policeman as the tangled cruncher tries to follow. Her clueless dad welcomes her and the horse home, then sends her to bed, reassuring her that he will read her a story that will not be too frightening for her. As if our cocky young heroine could be scared. Black, lively, slightly exaggerated lines describe the jaunty girl and mean ogre-like villain. Mixed media produce large, double page, textured scenes exploiting the emotional potential of color: a summer sun shines orange warmth on the flower-dotted yard; a crescent moon barely illuminates the cruncher in the gloomy grays of night. Bits of detail like chickens and woodland creatures add to the positive fun of this timeless fairy tale with a delightfully saucy, resourceful star. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2

A girl sits alone on a swing set, wishing for a playmate. Her father is working inside at his desk, and her friends are all away for the summer. She can't even interest her dog in adventure. Suddenly, she is surprised by a big hairy villain who intends to take her away. Excited by the possibility of a playmate, the child asks her father for permission to be abducted. He says, "Oh, that's fine." So the youngster rides off into the woods with her kidnapper, eager to strike up a friendship. When she finds that the bearded villain is a common child cruncher who intends to eat her, the girl is very disappointed. Not one to be threatened, she jumps on his horse and rides straight home. This protagonist exhibits self-confidence similar to Charlotte, who is featured in Stein's Mine! (2007), and the bubbling child cruncher is as nonthreatening as the monsters along the path in Stein's Brave Ben (2006, both Lemniscaat). The dynamic illustrations are consistent with van Hout's work in those titles. The use of black is limited to the characters' hair and a few details, while the overall page is rendered in hazy pastels. The style serves to reinforce the action in the story while allowing for plenty of details for careful readers to discover. The result is a far-fetched adventure that will have children cheering for their heroine.-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

Kirkus Reviews
A boring day brightens right up for a young lass when she's kidnapped by a hulking brute on a horse and carried off to a distant cave. Alas, her hope of a fun adventure is premature. Not only does her clumsy captor need rescuing when he nearly tumbles down a cliff, but after he responds with "lots of words I couldn't understand" to her efforts to tidy the dingy den and announces that she's about to become his breakfast, she realizes that he's just "an ordinary old child cruncher." Easily leaving the villain behind, she gallops home to her distracted dad-who invites her to pick out a bedtime story. "Nothing too frightening, though. Otherwise you won't sleep." The child radiates a smiling self-confidence in van Hout's cartoon art, which reflects the narrative's breezy tone, and the clumsy, blustering Bad Guy-endowed with both a ferocious scowl and a fuzzy plush bunny-comes across as far more comic than threatening. Even younger and more sensitive children will be left smiling by this droll, if brief, import. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Lemniscaat USA
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
2 - 5 Years

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