Trouble Gum, written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell calls to mind the work of William Steig is by far in my top three of favorite author/illustrators of picture books. He wrote a handful of amazing chapter books as well and his shoes are tough to fill. His illustrations, almost cartoon like with their black ink outlines (in fact, Steig was a cartoonist, much of his work appearing in the The New Yorker) are simple and expressive at the same time. Matthew Cordell's illustrations also capture this quality and share in Steig's dry, wry sense of humor.
It's a rainy day and Grammy has come for a visit. As with most Grammy's, Ruben and Julius' arrives wit h a goody or two in her purse. For these two pigs, it means GUM, and Ruben, the older, knowing, kind of bossy brother, decides to teach little brother Julius how to chew gum. Mom reminds the boys of her rule: CHEW the GUM, don't play with it - and the boys are left alone in the living room. Ruben pleasurably if rudely chews his gum from his perch in a chair, showing off his skills until he swallows his gum. Grammy is all ready with another piece of gum and mom half-heartedly agrees to let Ruben have one more chance. Things don't go so well this time around for Ruben, though...
Ruben's bubble blowing ends in disaster and a gob of gum on one of mom's knitted blankets. However, this has happened to Ruben before and he knows JUST what to do, much to mom's horror. Ruben gets a time-out. However, Julius sneaks some pieces from Grammy's purse and the boys end up covered in gum. Unfortunately for all pigs involved (but not the readers!) the story doesn't end there.
While mom, Grammy and Ruben are otherwise engaged, Julius finally perfects his bubble blowing skills, much to everyone's surprise.
Cordell definitely has a way with pigs and his story is as much about siblings as it is gum. I love this story and hope that he has more like this in him.
|Front and Endpapers from TROUBLE GUM|