The Hole in the Middle

Overview

Morgan has a hole in his middle, and it gives him a strange, empty feeling -- sort of like always being a little bit hungry. His best friend Yumi tries to help, but nothing seems to make Morgan feel better. Not music, not picnics... not even reminding himself to forget about the feeling. Then Yumi gets sick, and Morgan bakes her a cake. Cheering Yumi up means that Morgan doesn't stop to think about the hole in his middle. Only then does the hole start to shrink... until it's ...
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Overview

Morgan has a hole in his middle, and it gives him a strange, empty feeling -- sort of like always being a little bit hungry. His best friend Yumi tries to help, but nothing seems to make Morgan feel better. Not music, not picnics... not even reminding himself to forget about the feeling. Then Yumi gets sick, and Morgan bakes her a cake. Cheering Yumi up means that Morgan doesn't stop to think about the hole in his middle. Only then does the hole start to shrink... until it's exactly the same size as a belly button.

With bright, whimsical illustrations by up-and-coming artist Aya Kakeda, this simple, inventive tale gently reminds us that our own problems sometimes go away when we focus on our friends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kidrobot founder Budnitz and graphic artist Kakeda debut with a surreal tale about "a boy named Morgan, who was born with a hole in his middle. The hole was so big, you could see straight through him, from front to back." Morgan suffers from "a strange, empty feeling," and the circular, cookie cutter–shaped gap is large enough that his friend Yumi bats a badminton birdie through it. Budnitz quietly implies the hole is related to an innate self-centeredness (early on, Morgan eats an entire cake Yumi bakes for him, and he sings "all the solos" when they rock out together). In flattened cartoons dancing with whimsical dots, stripes, toadstools, and enormous flowers, Kakeda pictures a glum Morgan whose frown droops even more when he learns Yumi is ill. His mood lifts, though, when he bakes Yumi a get-well cake and visits her. As he devotes himself to cheering a friend, the hole shrinks until "it looked exactly like a belly button." The combination of Kakeda's optimistic pictures and Morgan's odd attribute make this resemble a Charles Burns comic for a junior crowd. Ages 3–6. (June)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Morgan has a problem. He has a big round hole in his middle and it makes him feel empty. His friend Yumi tries to help him feel better by making him treats and playing games with him, but the hole will not go away. When Yumi becomes ill, Morgan visits her every day and tries to do nice things for her. He becomes so busy cheering her up that he forgets about the hole, and it shrinks away to nothing but a belly button. Budnitz's message about friendship and the joy of serving others is clear, but not too heavy-handed. The simple text is printed in a large, child-friendly font on top of Kakeda's full-page, full-color illustrations. Young readers will find Morgan and Yumi's world, with its bright, multicolored flowers and red, spotted toadstools, inviting. The children are drawn with curved lines and have faces made of simple shapes. The illustration style is reminiscent of Japanese children's anime, and will appeal to those who like "Hello Kitty."—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Morgan has a problem. He has a big round hole in his middle and it makes him feel empty. His friend Yumi tries to help him feel better by making him treats and playing games with him, but the hole will not go away. When Yumi becomes ill, Morgan visits her every day and tries to do nice things for her. He becomes so busy cheering her up that he forgets about the hole, and it shrinks away to nothing but a belly button. Budnitz's message about friendship and the joy of serving others is clear, but not too heavy-handed. The simple text is printed in a large, child-friendly font on top of Kakeda's full-page, full-color illustrations. Young readers will find Morgan and Yumi's world, with its bright, multicolored flowers and red, spotted toadstools, inviting. The children are drawn with curved lines and have faces made of simple shapes. The illustration style is reminiscent of Japanese children's anime, and will appeal to those who like "Hello Kitty."—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
This charming story about friendship, a debut effort for both author and illustrator, succeeds with a chatty tone and appealing cartoon-style illustrations.

Morgan is a boy with a hole in his midsection; you can see right through it, and it causes an empty feeling no matter what he's doing or how much he eats. His best friend, Yumi, tries to help by making strawberry cake, taking his mind off it with play and suggesting he just forget about it, but nothing works until, in a reversal of roles, Yumi gets sick and needs his help. Alert readers will notice even before Morgan does that the hole in his tummy gets smaller and smaller the more he focuses on Yumi rather than himself. Morgan and Yumi's caring friendship is warmly portrayed, and the fact that they help each other solve problems (there are no adults here) encourages young readers' budding initiative and self-sufficiency. The colorful, cheerful spreads depict all sorts of amusements and feature whimsical details that add to the brief text; it's fun to try to spot the robot toy and the doll with a flower-shaped face that accompany Morgan and Yumi, respectively, through their adventures.

Focusing on the needs of others is a time-honored solution for those dissatisfied with their own lot in life; here is a motivating parable for contemporary kids.(Picture book. 3-6)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423137610
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Budnitz is the founder and president of the company Kidrobot, where he designs toys, fashion apparel, and cartoons. He is also a filmmaker, photographer, and computer programmer. His inspiration for The Hole in the Middle came one day when he was sitting very still and noticed that his middle was empty. This is his first book for children. He and his family live in Boulder, Colorado.

Aya Kakeda is a fine artist and illustrator who has shown her work in galleries in New York, Hollywood, and Tokyo. Her editorial illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and many other publications. She was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is her picture book debut.

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