Cress Watercress

Cress Watercress cover
Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire. Illustrated by David Litchfield

By Gregory Maguire
Illustrated by David Litchfield
Candlewick, 2022
224 pages

Ages 4-9

Cress Watercress is a young rabbit whose family is on the move. Papa didn’t come home from his last foraging trip; Mama is now supporting Cress and her baby brother, Kip, on her own. They’ve left the spacious warren Cress has known all her life for a cramped basement apartment in an old oak tree called the Broken Arms. Their new neighbors include the “super,” a field mouse named Manny; a squirrel family with four rambunctious boys; and Mr. Owl, their landlord, who makes his expectations about timely payment of rent clear. Eventually, their new neighbors prove to be friends they can rely on. This charming, moving, marvelous story beautifully balances serious themes (grief and loss—Papa likely met danger he couldn’t escape, financial worries, feeling lonely); adventure (white-water rafting, being imprisoned by a haughty skunk named Lady Cabbage, being rescued by Mama), and wry humor (a menacing snake called The Final Drainpipe, for a start). Cress bristles at Mama’s overprotectiveness, and feels some of the weight of Mama’s worries. She’s starting to reflect on feelings and behavior, even if she’s not always fully in control of them. She’s beginning to think about others not just herself. She’s learning about friendship. She’s longing to prove herself. She’s discovering what it means to be herself. Gorgeous book production, including full-page, full-color illustrated plates, adds to the appeal of this stirring, spirited story for reading alone or reading aloud. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center