cover image Cheese Belongs to You!

Cheese Belongs to You!

Alexis Deacon, illus. by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6608-8

“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.)