I Don't Like Cheese
written by Hannah Chandler; illustrated by Lauren Merrick
2014 (EK Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
It didn't matter what type of cheese his mum gave him.
Mike refused to eat it.
Mike the mouse is a contrarian. He thinks he doesn't like cheese. When presented with a piece, he politely refuses. Lucky for him Ashley, a girl in the house where he lives, brings him a little something each evening along with a token of which country the food is associated with. For example, on Monday she brings Mike a meat pie along with a cork hat representing Australia. Wednesday's meal is sushi and a little blue kimono from Japan on the side. On Thursdays, it's Italian and pizza is on the menu. Doesn't pizza have cheese? Mike can't be bothered with logic as he is living a traveler's dream until one Friday a note came with his croissant, creme brulee, and beret. The note said Ashley and her family are going on a vacation. The dinner train was coming to a sudden halt. Can Mike hold out until she comes back home or will he be forced to rethink his position on pasteurized goodness? His declaration regarding Dry Jack? His stance on Swiss?
At the age of 11, Hannah Chandler wrote this engaging picture book as a response to her principal's challenge. I usually don't mention an author's age, but this is pretty extraordinary. Plus, it's a terrific mentor text for young writers who will see that there is a potential big audience for their writing. I also like this book as part of a unit on trying new things or a healthy foods unit where students eat new foods. You can incorporate it into a unit on the five senses with a focus on taste buds. Or you could have a shared writing experience by making a book about the foods that your students do not like. They can practice main idea and supporting details with sentences like "I don't like grapefruit. It's too juicy and bitter for my taste buds."
Whatever your taste, I think you and your students will enjoy a helping of "I Don't Like Cheese."