I love picture books that start with a simple idea, then build up and build up into a ridiculous situation. One of my favourite examples of this is Oliver Jeffers’ fantastic picture book, Stuck. Floyd’s kite gets stuck in the tree and more and more things get thrown up to try and knock the kite down. Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz’ new book Cheese Belongs To Me! is another book like this, that builds on one simple rat law: cheese belongs to you.
Rat law is simple: if you take a piece of cheese, it belongs to you. So if a bigger rat takes it … then cheese belongs to them. Unless … a quicker rat swipes it! Every rat knows rat law; if you are big or quick, strong or scary, hairy or dirty, or, indeed, all of the above. But just who gets to EAT the cheese?
Cheese Belongs To You is a hilarious picture book about one piece of cheese and the rules that decide which rat it belongs to. The more complicated the situation becomes, the faster you want to read. The only problem is that you start to trip over your tongue so you have to slow down (try saying ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rats’ quickly 3 times). I love the inventive ways that Alexis has come up with to describe the different rats, so that each one is better than the last. You find yourself anticipating what might be next and I’m sure kids will too. There could be lots of discussion about what sort of rat could come next. Viviane’s illustrations are superb as always and I think her style of illustration is perfect for this story. Her rats all have different personalities, and even on a page filled with them all the rats look different. I especially love the ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rat,’ with his hook-hand, peg-leg and pet cockroach. I think a great way to introduce the story would be to cover up the text and see if the children can guess why each rat is better than the last. I also love the way that Viviane has incorporated the cheese into every page, including the cheesy end papers.
After the situation turns into utter chaos the story reaches a satisfying conclusion that keeps everyone happy. Grab a copy of Cheese Belongs To You! and share it with the children in your life. I’ll certainly be reading this to every class, from Year 1 to Year 8 on my next library visits.
5 out of 5 stars