cover image C.R. Mudgeon

C.R. Mudgeon

Leslie Muir, illus. by Julian Hector. S&S/Atheneum, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-7906-7

A squirrel named Paprika adds some much needed spice to the titular hedgehog’s humdrum routine in this chipper friendship tale. After flamboyant Paprika moves into the tree next door, bright red poppies sprouting outside his door hurt C.R.’s eyes, zesty aromas make his nightly dinner of “celery root soup—no lemon” taste bland, and mariachi music rumbles his roof; it’s all too much for the quiet, persnickety hedgehog. He’s content to read his favorite book, Medical Cures from A to Z, by the fire and treat himself to “one small fig for dessert—but only on Tuesdays.” But Paprika’s neighborly behavior works its magic, and C.R. decides he’d rather be bothered by the commotion than be lonely. Muir (The Little Bitty Bakery) gets the rhythms of two opposite personalities just right, and sprinkles a piquant note of humor over the proceedings. Hector (The Gentleman Bug) also has fun with the contrasts, from C.R.’s cozy slippers and well-worn sweater to Paprika’s outrageously patterned frocks and piñata-festooned abode. Ages 4–8. Agent: Anna J. Webman, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)