Cress Watercress


When Papa does not return to the warren one morning, everything changes for the Watercress family. Cress, her Mama and baby Kip must follow the map to the Broken Arms, to rent a basement apartment from Mr Owl for ten moths a night.

However, there are no other rabbits in the vicinity. What’s more, there’s a feared snake, the Final Drainpipe, to avoid, and an ill-tempered, eavesdropping landlord. Then again, the journey and the new home offer Cress a chance to watch the moon, upon whom she hangs her wishes and sadness, most ending and beginning with Papa.

She and Mama have Tunk the Honeybear to negotiate, and the super, Manny Crabgrass, to help them settle. Then again, there’s the Oakleaf family of squirrels, with Finny keen to make friends with Cress. Yet still no rabbits? What if a Nasty rabbit might lead Cress into the reaches of a sneaky skunk? Furthermore, what if there are problems in fulfilling the rent?

Cress Watercress is a most enchanting story of friendship and family within a magical natural world. We follow Cress’s hopes and fears and her frustration at Kip’s illness, the family situation and then the secrets held by the Broken Arms. Then again, we join her and Finny on a brave, yet foolhardy adventure!

Gregory Maguire convinces entirely with this wonderful storybook, while David Litchfield’s pictures are exceptionally beautiful. Bookwagon loves and recommends Cress Watercress for sharing at bedtime, poring over, loving and knowing, and gifting, too.

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Cress Watercress

Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield

(Walker Books)

Cress Watercress is unhappy at her family’s move to a basement apartment in the Broken Arms. However with Papa’s disappearance, it seems that there is little other choice for Mama, especially with baby Kip’s breathing problems. Now, Mama must pay ‘ten moths a night’ to the landlord Mr Owl. Meanwhile, the apartment is cramped and small, and without any other rabbits. How will Cress cope?
It seems the other residents are keen to help out the trio, from the super, Manfred Crabgrass, to the Oakleaf family. However, Cress’s resistance to her new residence is strong, alongside her ache for her missing father. Then again, there’s Finny’s mischief to enjoy, Tunk the Honeybear to escape and ‘the Final Drainpipe ‘ to avoid- at all costs! What’s more, could there be another rabbit in the vicinity? Thereafter, what about the oleaginous Lady Cabbage and her sneaky ways and manner?
Within a story that offers a sense of classic tales of old, such as The Wind in the Willows, Gregory Maguire and David Litchfield spin a story of loss, reconciliation, friendship and new beginnings. Not only is Cress Watercress a beautiful story to hear and read, but David Litchfield’s illustrations are quite breathtaking. Somehow he captures the newness of Cress’s experience, the wider world, its dangers and possibilities. Like Skunk and Badger, for example, this title is an ideal story to read together, discuss, wonder about, linger over, love and remember.


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