Crunch the guinea pig loves his food. A lot. And he spends an awful lot of time eating it. But when Cheddar the mouse turns up uninvited looking for some food. Crunch grumpily refuses despite having plenty and being offered a hug in exchange. Soon after Cheddar leaves, Crunch starts to realise that maybe it is time to make a change realises the error of his ways, but is it too late to win Cheddar over?
It was love at first sight with Crunch! for me, with its cantankerous guinea pig, its happy-go-lucky mouse, and the unlikely friendship that forms between them. Little readers will enjoy seeing Crunch’s grumpy face and Cheddar’s cheeky attitude but Crunch’s emotional turnmoil won’t be lost on them either: the difficulty of sharing, the worry of accepting something new and the apprehension of stepping out of one’s comfort zone are all present and dealt with tactfully. All these worries, omnipresent in toddlers’ every day lives, are represented with both humour and warmth, managing to entertain and comfort in equal measures. How can one not laugh at Crunch’s grumpy face? Animal characters are so much easier to relate to when it comes to unfamiliar and slightly scary feelings and Carolina Rabei plays on this marvelously, conveying the idea that embracing new things can be really rewarding. Though the artwork looks different from her sumptuous Snow (see my review here), readers will recognise her clever use of colour scheme, this time full of colours that are reminiscent of the flora around the characters, and particularly Crunch’s beloved food, and I do love particularly the russet shade of Crunch’s fur. And here again also, Carolina Rabei’s makes clever use of framing, using it pace the story and focusing the visual narrative. Even the lines create a frame within the artwork, as demonstrated here:
Joyous, charming and full of warmth, Crunch! is just like one of Cheddar’s hugs. A lovely, lovely book!
Source: review copy from publisher