cover image Chuck and Woodchuck

Chuck and Woodchuck

Cece Bell. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7524-0

A first-grader named Caroline narrates this beguilingly offbeat story from Bell (I Yam a Donkey), drawn in the artist's characteristic childlike style. During show-and-tell one day, Woodchuck, her classmate Chuck's pet, dazzles the class with a circus-style balancing act: "Woodchuck was so cute and funny that even our teacher agreed that he should come to school every day." It looks like the story is going to concentrate on Woodchuck and his gift for entertainment, but that's not what happens. Instead, Woodchuck serves as a go-between in a quiet love story between Caroline and Chuck, a shy but thoughtful boy who sees moments when Caroline needs help and sends Woodchuck to her aid. When Caroline's caught in the cold without a hat, "Woodchuck gave me a hat to wear. I think it was Chuck's hat." Chuck sends Woodchuck to the rescue several more times, but when Caroline forgets her lines in the school play, it's Chuck himself who helps her out. Chuck's cumulative acts of kindness draw attention from Woodchuck's flashiness to a deeper place, and Bell's creation respects the intense emotions of schoolroom crushes. Ages 4%E2%80%938. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)