A book to talk about: “I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers” by Lillian Moore and illustrated by Sharon Wooding

Note: I’m not sure how hard or easy this chapter book is to find. It’s from 1988, and was republished in 2001 with a new picture on the cover, I gather. It’s one that I just kind of pulled off the shelf and started reading.

While the verse in the Pooh books can be quite good, though in a foggy sort of way sometimes, I think the mouse poet in this book is at least as good a poet as Edward Bear. He certainly has a different way of writing.

There was something very adventurous yet soothing about this book. The characters, maybe, are not totally different from those in other books. But I really liked them, and I though they were very good in this story. I liked the poems that the author chose to include by other authors … “Grass” by Valerie Worth, “Poem” by Langston Hughes, and “Lumps” by Judith Thurman. The characters start reading “Fog” by Carl Sandburg but stop … for reasons that you might be able to guess.

The story is like of like the one about the town mouse and the country mouse, but it has a lot more characters and a very different ending. There are a lot more threads to this story, even though it’s not a long book.

The country dweller, Adam, has a friend who often visits the city and, we find out, is considering moving there, to Adam’s dismay. Accustomed to a quiet expanse of nature and farmland, Adam has never been to the city. I liked the way the author keeps a fairly slow pace, as Adam tries to decide whether he himself should visit the city. As it turns out there’s a mouse there named Amanda, a fellow poetry fan, who would really like to meet him and who wants to learn about the country. Finally, he decides to go. He finds the city full of wonders, such as a library and new foods. He is fascinated by traffic lights when he sees them for the first time (an event which, if I remember right, Amanda finds a bit odd and perhaps even makes her feel a bit impatient). But, SORT OF A SPOILER, none of these wonders cause him to forget his life in the quiet fields and how important that is to him. I liked that this book shows that city-born people are as likely to be afraid of the country as people who have always lived in the country are likely to worry about traveling to a big city.

Moore does a good job of getting the feel of the different places. The country is quiet, sometimes sombre, sometimes sunny. The city is full of smells, a few moments of panic, and lots of amazing things to see (and to read) in the company of a friend.

Other scenes sound sound like they would be boring … for example, it is hard to imagine being excited about getting a sunflower seed as a present, or reading about it … but didn’t sound strange it all when I read it. At least, not strange in a bad way. I guess, for a city mouse, a seed or piece of plant from the country brings to mind a far-away and amazing place. And also, for a mouse, a seed might be a decent-sized meal. Maybe like what a sub sandwich is to a person.
The last thing I’ll say for now about this short but well-written book is that I really like the title. I just found out that there is a sequel with a title that I really don’t like much (Don’t be Afraid, Amanda), at least compared to I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers, which I think makes you very curious but is also very true to the book.

Moore, Lillian. I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers. Illustrated by Sharon Wooding. New York: Athenuem, 1988. Print.

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