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Resource Links Rates Hoogie "E" (for Excellent, Enduring, Everyone Should See it!)

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June, 2013—Vol. 18, #5

Hoogie in the Middle

Rated E: Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!

Not all children’s books need to be moralistic; some just express, simply and effectively, how it feels to be a child. Hoogie in the Middle is just such a book.

Hoogie might be in the middle of her monster family, but she is front and centre in this delightful picture book. Young readers caught in the middle like Hoogie will certainly identify; even their siblings will find themselves portrayed in positive ways in the pages. Hoogie is always caught in the middle, so much so that sometimes she “feels like the hole in the middle of a donut”: sadly invisible to all of her family. Eventually, her sadness becomes too much and “Hoogie… EXPLODES!” Sometimes it takes a drastic reaction to get adults to notice…

Hoogie in the Middle does not condone loss of temper so much as present frustration as a real part of the childhood experience, as much as the imaginative play that Hoogie and her siblings engage in. The simple comparisons made between Hoogie, her older sister Pumpkin, and their baby brother Tweezle, are balanced and sufficiently repetitious to create a memorable, lilting narrative that will help young readers to learn the words as they go, or to enjoy the sounds as their parents read to them.

Combine Stephanie McLellan’s gentle and effective wordplay with Dean Griffiths’ fabulous, colourful illustrations, and you have a book that feels like Hoogie at the end: “like the jelly in the middle of a sandwich: Sweet.”

Thematic Links: Siblings; Middle Child Syndrome

—Karen Huenemann

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