Gregory Maguire, Author
David Litchfield, Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 29, 2022
Suitable fore ages: 8-12
Themes: Animals, Family, Loss, Moving, Friendships, Independence, Fantasy, Magic
Gregory Maguire turns his trademark wit and wisdom to an animal adventure about growing up, moving on, and finding community. When Papa doesn’t return from a nocturnal honey-gathering expedition, Cress holds out hope, but her mother assumes the worst. It’s a dangerous world for rabbits, after all. Mama moves what’s left of the Watercress family to the basement unit of the Broken Arms, a run-down apartment oak with a suspect owl landlord, a nosy mouse super, a rowdy family of squirrels, and a pair of songbirds who broadcast everyone’s business.
Can a dead tree full of annoying neighbors, and no Papa, ever be home? In the timeless spirit of E. B. White and The Wind and the Willows—yet thoroughly of its time—this read-aloud and read-alone gem for animal lovers of all ages features an unforgettable cast that leaps off the page in glowing illustrations by David Litchfield. This tender meditation on coming-of-age invites us to flourish wherever we find ourselves.
Why I like Cress Watercress:
Gregory Maguire’s Cress Watercress is a delightful celebration of the wonders and beauty of the natural world, along with the hidden dangers and threats lurking on rocks, behind trees and in the plants and flowers.
Reading Gregory Maguire’s Cress Watercress, stirred up so many fond childhood memories of sitting on my mother’s lap and listening to Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit,. I was eager to read Maguire’s (Wicked) more contemporary story about a family of rabbits who deal with grief, loss and all the difficulties of life, while learning to create a home where they can heal and move forward after a tragedy. The animal characters are relatable with human emotions. The story is both sad and happy. It’s packed with adventure and suspense, and has a strong sense of community.
Maguire’s imagery is rich and vivid and a delight to read. For example, “The setting sun was a lumpy clementine in a net bag of string clouds. The air, so cool and damp. A few birds moaned in falling tones.” David Litchfield’s lively and breathtaking artwork makes this story sing. Readers will delight in his colorful eye-popping images. I believe my favorite illustration is the split oak tree apartment, which alludes to a theme of dark and light in the story. It is a perfect read aloud book for bedtime, with short chapters and delightfully humorous, cranky, witty, conniving and dangerous characters.
Gregory Maguire, is the author of the incredibly popular Wicked, which inspired the musical. He is also the author of several books for children, including What-the-Dickens, a New York Times best seller, and Egg an Spoon,, a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of the Year. Gregory Maguire lives outside Boston.
Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Make sure you check out the many links to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.
*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.