Hoogie in the Middle (2013), by Stephanie McLellan and Dean Griffiths

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 18.5.

Hoogie in the Middle

McKellan-Hoogie
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 the donut”: sadly invisible to all of her family. Eventually, her sadness becomes too much and “Hoogie… EXPLODES!” Sometimes, young readers will know, it takes a meltdown to get adults to notice…

Hoogie in the Middle does not condone loss of temper so much as present it as a real part of the childhood experience, like 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 your readers to learn the words as they go, or to enjoy the sounds as their parent read to them. Combine Stephanie McLellan’s gentle and effective wordplay with Dean Griffith’s 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.”

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