Maguire, Gregory. Cress Watercress. David Litchfield, Illus. Fiction. Candlewick, 03/2022. 224pp. $19.99. 978-1-5362-1100-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-6.
After Cress’ father fails to return home, the heartbroken young rabbit and her mother and baby brother relocate from their cozy burrow to the bleak Broken Arms, an old tree subdivided into apartments. Filled with rich sensory details, the narrative follows the clever but willful rabbit on a series of grand adventures that involve quick thinking, new friends, and the ability to adapt. Illustrations in vibrant hues mirror the text; both offer a decidedly bunny-like view of a world where predators loom large. Poignant and funny, the story features a memorable cast of secondary characters—many with interesting backstories and resolutions—including a grouchy landlord owl harboring a secret, a rabbit named Nasty (who is nasty!), and a haughty skunk looking for a lady’s maid. Lovely illustrations and a spacious layout signal a book for younger children, but themes of loss and renewal make this deeply satisfying tale a great choice for older readers, or for a family/classroom read-aloud.
Jenny Andrus, Independent