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The Cheese    by Margie Palatini, Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher order for
by Margie Palatini
Order:  USA  Can
Katherine Tegen, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This amusing picture book, The Cheese, takes off from the last verse of The Farmer in the Dell nursery rhyme. We see a long-nosed indignant looking rat, hands on hips, reading a Rules and Regulations poster that says: 'The cheese stands alone / The cheese stands alone / Hi-ho the dairy-o / The cheese stands alone.'

The rat sighs as he looks at the cheese down in the dell, 'So yellow. So mellow ... So tasty.' He scurries down the hill to join it for 'dinner in the dell.' He encounters a cat and convinces her (she likes to nibble cheese too) that, despite the song, 'That cheese should not stand alone.' Next, the bothersome dog comes running up and - can you guess? - joins the parade. A child follows the dog, and succumbs to feline blandishments. But then Mother shows up, forcing them all to wait 'for the cow to come home with the farmer, who was the father' and also the Farmer in the Dell. Of course, his tummy grumbles too. And soon it's 'Hi-ho the dairy-o.'

Margie Palatini's The Cheese is a delightful - and hilarious - story that encourages critical thinking by asking sensible questions of a rather silly, but beloved, nursery rhyme. All the original verses are included at the back of the book, which is splendidly illustrated in a mix of full-page and comic panel format by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.

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