I got some good reviews for my upcoming picture book, CHUCK AND WOODCHUCK, out March 8th.
This book is kinda nutty, so it’s a relief that the reviewers seemed to “get” it. Thanks to all the reviewers for taking the time to read it, think about it, and write about it. Anyway, here are the reviews, and I hope y’all will check it out!
From Elissa Gershowitz from the Horn Book:
New friendships can be forged in many ways; in this case it’s a woodchuck at school for show-and-tell bringing together a shy first-grader named Chuck and his classmate Caroline (both human). Caroline, the narrator, describes the ways that Woodchuck goes out of his way to get her attention on Chuck’s behalf. During recess Woodchuck delivers Chuck’s hat to warm her chilly ears; Woodchuck brings over a new cupcake (Chuck’s) when hers falls on the floor; he shares Chuck’s picture when Caroline spills paint on hers. It’s all very nice and Cyranolike, but will Chuck ever find his voice? He does, in a sweet and satisfying way, and a three-way friendship is formed. It’s an odd little story, engagingly illustrated with clear, unfussy ink and digital pictures in a cheerful school setting that make the action easy to follow. Bell’s conversational text, too, does its part by keeping readers grounded within a humorously fantastical storyline (it’s not like Woodchuck is imaginary; the other kids at school can see him). This is probably the first woodchuck matchmaker in a picture book, and he’s a feisty and endearing one—with good instincts, too; Chuck and Caroline seem made for each other. elissa Gershowitz
From Publishers Weekly:
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.
From Lolly Gepson from Booklist:
The multitalented Bell comes through with another hit—a school story with heart. At show-and-tell, Caroline’s first-grade class has some neat stuff, including a ukulele, a tadpole, and a sombrero. But shy Chuck brings the best one: Woodchuck. The cute and funny pal is so entertaining that the teacher invites him to come to school every day. Since Chuck is sweet on Caroline, Woodchuck is especially attentive to her, sharpening her pencil and giving her Chuck’s hat, cupcake, and flower painting. When Chuck whispers Caroline’s forgotten lines to her in the school play, their friendship is sealed, and the three friends walk home from school together with smiles all around. Bell’s warm and colorful graphic style, which uses ink and digital illustrations, embraces the many personalities of the class, as well as giving off the happy vibes of burgeoning affection. The bright and cheerful double-page spreads show the toothsome, fuzzy-tailed, lovable Woodchuck comically facilitating a flowering friendship.