Motivational author Spencer Johnson (The One Minute Manager, Who Moved my Cheese? for Teens) may have finally found the perfect format for his popular parable on the importance of anticipating and adapting to life changes.
Critics of Johnson's best-selling Who Moved my Cheese? for grownups complained about its oversimplification and lack of substance (and the fact that glad-handed managers sometimes gave the book to employees fearing for their jobs didn't help). But in a kids' book, that simplicity doesn't grate as much, and Johnson's cartoonish characters--sneaker-wearing mice Sniff and Scurry, and the tentative Hem and Haw, ever in search of "cheese" in the "maze"--look right at home alongside the rest of Steve Pileggi's crude illustrations.
Of course, Johnson's homily might seem even less applicable to kids than it is to adults, and some of Haw's "Handwriting on the Wall" (again, lifted directly from the grownup version) will likely prove too abstract (like "Smell the cheese often so you know when it's getting old"). But then again, kids face more changes than most adults, and they often have fewer tools to deal with them. If nothing else, Johnson's message on "How to deal with change--and win!" is at least a slight improvement on the more time-honored "Shut up and deal." (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-While this picture-book allegory is not a panacea to every change occurring in a child's life, some may find it a useful discussion tool. Johnson shows the different ways that four little friends search out the Magical Cheese that will make them happy. The author explains that some children may look for change early like Sniff, some may hurry to action like Scurry, some may resist change like Hem, and still others may learn to adapt like Haw. Rhetorical questions are asked, for example, "What do you think your New Cheese could be?" Haw frequently pauses to write inspirational comments on the wall such as "Imagining Your New Cheese Helps You Find It!" This book could aid children in understanding that "the best change happens inside of you-like when you believe a change can lead to something better." The cartoon characters are distinguished by their colors and the names on their caps and jumpsuits. Endpapers portray a maze, which is also shown within the pages of the book. The author concludes with discussion questions to consider.
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Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
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