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When Cucumber Lost His Cool

By Michelle Robinson & Tom Knight

Reviewed by Sandy Driessens

Kevin the cucumber is so cool – everybody knows it! He wears cool sunglasses and struts around singing his own cool song. “I’m super cool Kevin and this is my song! Make like a cucumber, you can’t go wrong.” Kevin’s attitude inspires Bean and together they encourage other shy, anxious or grouchy vegetable friends to be more confident by singing his song. They’re all rocking along until ‘Pepper’ substitutes his name in the song. Kevin is indignant and loses his cool. “Kevin, chillax!” chimes the now super cool mob, who thank him for helping them to be cool, too. “Kevin takes off his shades and sees that it’s true.”
Michelle Robinson, an English author now living in Canada, has written 50 Children’s Books since 2012 and has been awarded the Sainsbury Children’s Book Prize and the Laugh Out Loud Book Award for 2020. When Cucumber Lost His Cool was published in the UK in 2021 but is just released in Australia. If all her previous books are similar, I can understand why they are so popular.  Her text is engaging and humorous with musical rhyme and rhythm. It is obviously made to be read out loud with gusto and expression.
Speaking of expression, English illustrator, Tom Knight has created characters, who perfectly complement Robinson’s poetry. The brilliant, caricatures of the vegetables/fruit depict their individual personalities in a warm and lovable manner. The bright, basic colours used on the background unexpectedly give the characters centre stage. Set in an old-fashioned grocery store, the displays, labels, boxes and crates also give that community feel. The production of this book is joyous as well with the endpapers covered in posters of the stars of this book … fruit and vegetables.
If you’re looking for a story that encourages a child to be confident in their uniqueness, this is the book. It also looks at emotions of both the child and those around them and how to deal with them. This is an entertaining and educational book without being overly didactic. Tom Knight has dedicated his illustrations to “all the independent fruit and veg growers and sellers of the world.” I enjoyed it and would recommend it for parents, carers and early childhood teachers.
Scholastic, Australia  2023
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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