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Chalk & Cheese Hardcover – October 21, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—Many of the most endearing friendships in children's literature, from Pooh and Piglet to Laura Seeger's Dog and Bear (Roaring Brook, 2007), turn on the formulaic but charming incongruity of the main characters' personalities; so it is here. An obscure British idiom, defined as two things that have nothing in common, serves as both title and premise for this "odd couple's" day in New York City. Cheese, the garrulous, hyperbolic English country mouse, and Chalk the dog, who is his long-suffering New York tour guide, are introduced through their postcard correspondence that cleverly depicts their dissimilarities. Cheese, the excitable tourist, tries every Big Apple experience while Chalk is his patient host for a very long day of sightseeing. Narrative text is brief, and most of the story's momentum is expressed through comic-style panels and speech balloons, which in Cheese's case are often exclamatory and colored cheddar yellow. The contrast between the friends is heightened by Warnes's watercolor and pencil cartoons, rendering Cheese as tiny, but with a big mouth, and Chalk as large and pleasant but somewhat stolid. If Cheese's lively vociferations become tedious to some adults, they will no doubt entertain children, who will find his game enthusiasm for everything from subway cockroaches to skating at Rockefeller Center ("Splat!") simply hilarious.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
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Chalk and Cheese are friends, but they’re as different as, well, chalk and cheese. Chalk, a white dog, lives in N.Y.C., and pen-pal Cheese, an English mouse, comes to visit. In expansive, humor-laden art, some drawn in cartoon-strip style, the duo gad about New York, starting in a typical coffee shop and taking subways and taxis to familiar tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. There, Cheese hopes he’ll get to see King Kong; instead he gets lost, lured away by the aroma of warm nuts. The duo fall out with each other but always find gentle ways to get back together. What’s best is the sheer exuberance both feel about New York, to which this story is a love letter. That said, the usual preschool audience may be too young to appreciate the city references (to say nothing of the allusion to chalk and cheese). But slightly older kids, more familiar with some of the famous sights, will enjoy both the travelogue and the unlikely friendship. Grades K-2. --Ilene Cooper
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Top Customer Reviews
He doesn't watch any TV and it's nice to have a children's book that is so rich with real character dialogue. Chalk and Cheese's conversations cover a range of things, including nurturing, sarcasm, joy, empathy, silliness, disagreement, apologizing and love.
Many of the locations and Kong references are over his head, but it gives us something more to chat about. As he gets older this book will grow with him.
Don't let the author's previous religious book scare you away if that's not your thing. He has created delightful characters that will appeal to everyone. Yeesssirreee.
Cheese has been sending postcards to Chalk asking all kinds of questions about New York. Does a skyscraper really scrape the sky? Where does Stuart Little live? Can tractors be spotted driving down the crowded streets?
Instead of merely telling Cheese about the Big Apple, Chalk invites him to come over for a visit. Cheese is thrilled at the idea of getting to spend some quality time with his best friend. At first, he is a bit overwhelmed by all of the sights, sounds...and smells. But, Chalk stands by him through it all and gently guides Cheese on the journey of a lifetime.
I very much enjoyed reading this story. The book layout is very similar to a comic book, which I thought worked very well for the story. However, I did find some of the page transitions to be a bit confusing since so much was happening on the page.
The illustrations are simple, but effective. Children will fall in love with loyal Chalk and curious Cheese. I believe that children ages 3-7 will truly treasure this book and its message about the true meaning of friendship.
Chalk, a New-York-City dog, and Cheese, an English country mouse, have a day out in Manhattan together. They couldn't be more different, but in the end, they see how much they are alike.
Try reading Cheese's voice in a squeaky British accent! You're guaranteed to get laughs from your child!
He practically giggles his way through the entire book.
Thank goodness the library had it in a featured display so I would notice it...this would make a wonderful Christmas gift.