From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3—A rat living in the dell wonders why the posted rules and regulations state that the cheese stands alone—especially when it is a tasty-looking hunk of cheddar standing uselessly in a meadow. Napkin in hand, he goes to investigate. In this reverse version of "The Farmer in the Dell," the rat is then joined by a cat, a dog, a child, a mother, and finally the farmer father, all of whom initially insist that the cheese must stand alone, and then are persuaded to consider that the rule might actually be a silly one worth challenging. The farmer decides that if they are going to eat the cheese, they might as well make a party out of it, and everyone goes to fetch apples, pears, sausages, milk, and, of course, crackers. The folk-art quality of the illustrations is rich with country colors—barn reds, field greens, and earthy yellows, and the cartoon animals are funny and expressive. A smattering of words and music from the song is worked in effectively on most pages, and the full lyrics are printed on the last page, useful since this book will no doubt be the featured star in a number of sing-alongs.—Susan Moorhead, New Rochelle Public Library, NY
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Palatini's uproarious spoof on "The Farmer in the Dell" begins at the end of the song: the cheese stands alone. While eyeing the solitary chunk of cheddar in a field, a rat rethinks the order of things: "Give me one good reason why the cheese stands alone . . . Why should good food go to waste because of some silly song?" Dashing off for a nosh, he encounters the cat, who joins him in his trot toward the cheese. Then the dog appears, as well as the rest of the song's characters, who make a grand picnic from the towering cheese wedge. Children will easily overlook the flat ending as they delight in Palatini's raucous twist on the ubiquitous song (the original's lyrics close the book). The high-energy, mixed-media illustrations, which appear in multiple, comics-style frames on several spreads, turn up the silliness with the cast of expressive animals—the cunning rat, the airhead dog—who speak in funny, sly asides. Best for small groups, who can view the detailed pictures up close, this will be a read-aloud hit. Engberg, Gillian Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved