Cress Watercress

Candlewick. Mar. 2022. 224p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536211009.
Gr 3-7–When Maguire (Wicked) and illustrator Litchfield merge their creative geniuses, a spectacular woodland adventure full of quirky animal characters emerges. Cress, the “teenage” bunny of the family, along with Mama, and baby brother Kip (with his ever in tow, stuffed carrot Rotty), are sad to leave their warren without their beloved missing Papa. They arrive at Mr. Owl’s rotten tree, “The Broken Arms,” and attempt to start over in a tiny basement flat. The woodland setting is visually stunning, with Litchfield’s enchanting full-color illustrations, bringing the motley crew of animal characters to life. There’s Lady Agatha Cabbage, the snooty chinchilla-wearing skunk and Tunk the Honeybear, and they must always watch out for “Final Drainpipe,” the snake. Maguire is a master of telling a fast-moving adventure full of wry humor, with memorable multidimensional characters to cheer both for and against. Young Cress encounters heart-stopping dangers and adventures, while the creative duo of Maguire and Litchfield weave symbolism and beautiful imagery throughout the text. Cress will appeal to most readers, who will be able to identify with that awkward in-between time during one’s youth when they are wishing for independence from their family, while still very much needing them for comfort.
VERDICT Reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows, this makes a scrumptious read-aloud or standalone story that will be beloved for years to come.

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