cover image Martha in the Middle

Martha in the Middle

Jan Fearnley, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3800-9

Fearnley (Watch Out! ) may not break any new ground with this story about a middle child finding that she can be special, too, and yet the character is so insouciant and the artwork animated by so much humor that this oversize book should find an audience. Martha, a mouse, runs away from home (“They won’t even care that I’m gone,” she tells herself) and, predictably, experiences an epiphany about her role in the family—an epiphany prompted by a frog. Demonstrating his points like a motivational speaker, the frog reminds Martha that the best or sweetest part of most things are found at their centers. Fearnley’s nimble use of line and uncluttered watercolors focus on character and plenty of action (Martha reclines in the middle of a watermelon slice, in the space created by a large bite; bees frolic as they collect nectar from the centers of flowers). Witty details, like maracas made of acorns, ramp up the fun on repeat readings. Ages 3–up. (June)