Cheese belongs to you! by Alexis Deacon

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Ill. by Vivian Schwarz. Walker Books, 2013.
(Age: all) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Bullying. Democracy. Rules. It amazes me when authors, supported by illustrators with an awareness so suited to the tale, write a story about major themes within our society, but told at a level that is able to be understood by the youngest of readers. So it is with this one. Cheese belongs to you except when a hairier, scarier, bigger rat comes along. And so it goes all through the tale, each page showing a different rat which gains power over the preceding rat for some reason. At the end of the book, when the biggest, scariest, dirtiest rat comes along, all the rats then fight for the cheese with interesting results.
Readers will immediately see the logic of the big and powerful rats taking over the cheese, equating it with what they see in the schoolyard, or in society, or government or world affairs. And to have this rise of power then erupt into war is even more obvious, as most television news will tell them. But readers do not have to be au fait with world affairs, this premise can be seen all around them and will be a basis for discussion in all classrooms. And readers will love looking at the range of rats shown on each page, the scared, bullying and bullied, large and small, the cowering, the brave, the sneering, all have faces that can be marveled at, as the readers will look at them again and again with delight.
Fran Knight