This is the fourth story in the Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox series. In the first story, Mrs. Fox and her cub Ginger lose their home and move in with Mr. Badger and his three cubs. All of the following stories explore how the very different families learn to live together.
In Peace and Quiet, winter is on its way and Ginger is excited and wants to play. But badger cub Grub just wants to be left alone and take naps. Then winter arrives and the families are cooped up together. Younger badger cubs Bristle and Berry are soon squabbling with Ginger and everyone is annoying Grub. After a little time apart and some gentle guidance from the adults, the children learn to compromise, make adjustments for different personalities, and Grub gets a special surprise and a little peace and quiet all to himself.
The art is lovely, especially in the soft, hazy backgrounds. The changing seasons from autumn to winter are beautifully shown in the pastel watercolors. The animals are cute and furry, with strong anthropomorphic qualities. Although several pages deal with Ginger learning to hunt in the snow, the reader never sees any actual carnivorous activity and their winter feast appears to be an all-vegetarian meal. The parents radiate gentle concern and affection for their children and the cubs’ enthusiasm for new experiences is adorable. These books are picture book sized and the panels are very clearly organized, with strips of white space between each section.
My one reservation on this series is the difficulty in telling the various cubs, and their dialogue, apart. The target audience is given as kindergarten through third grade and there will certainly be children in that group who enjoy the peaceful, comforting stories and pretty art. The text is big enough for emerging readers to read comfortably, but it’s often difficult to tell which animal belongs to which speech balloon. Again, the only thing that really differentiates the badger cubs is their size and in many of the close-up panels, those differences aren’t shown.
I’ve been shelving these titles in the easy reader section at our library and have been disappointed by their low circulation, which I think is mostly due to their awkward size. With this latest addition to the series, I plan to move it to the graphic novel section where it can take its place alongside Andy Runton’s Owly and Colleen AF Venable’s Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye as choices for parents and kids who like the comic format but want something appropriate for younger children and a little less adventurous.