STARRED REVIEW
April 2022

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

By Avery Monsen, illustrated by Abby Hanlon
Poor Chester van Chime may have lost the ability to rhyme, but young readers will lose themselves to giggles at this book’s delightfully unsuccessful couplets.
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Expect the giggles to begin from the opening endpapers of Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme. They feature small drawings, and each illustration is accompanied by a pair of rhyming words. For example, a depiction of a green slug smiling on a fluffy green rug says “Slug Rug.”

The book itself is about poor Chester van Chime, who awakens one morning to discover that he has lost the ability to rhyme. Scattered across his bedroom are objects that evoke rhymes: The same slug from the endpapers smiles happily from a green rug next to Chester’s bed, and we see two toy ducks inside a blue toy truck. Despite all these visual clues, Chester simply can't “match up two sounds.”

Author Avery Monsen presents a text filled with rhyming couplets that fall flat on their poetic faces. “He tried not to panic. He played it real cool / and picked up his backpack and walked to his . . . / . . . learning place with teachers and stuff.” Adults, welcome to your next Best Storytime Book.

Abby Hanlon, illustrator of the side-splittingly funny Dory Fantasmagory chapter book series, brings her playful sensibilities to these vivid tableaux. Her spreads teem with rhyming pairs. Owls decorate Chester's bathroom towel; a pup smiles from the cup on his sink; a fox steals a sock while Chester’s getting dressed; and can you guess what winged mammal appears on his doormat? As Chester's frustrations over his failures escalate, so do the visuals. Chester's classroom devolves into chaos as his classmates try to resuscitate his rhyming acumen.

Chester walks home from school in despair, but he soon realizes that everyone has off days and no one can be perfect all the time. Besides, by day’s end, Chester can rhyme again—for the most part. And remember those winning opening endpapers? The book’s closing endpapers feature an entirely new but equally delightful set of drawings.

It’s a must-read, a hit, a guaranteed good time. If only more books were like Chester van . . . what was his name again?

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Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

By Avery Monsen, illustrated by Abby Hanlon
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780759554825

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