Flap Copy: Cork is a short muskrat.  Fuzz is a tall possum.  Even though they are different, they can still be best friends.  Or can they?  "I am older," says Cork.  "I need to be taller.  It is a rule."
Can friendships break such rules?  The gentle, humorous story in this second Cork and Fuzz easy-to-read title will captivate beginning readers.

Behind the scenes: I worked with preschoolers for a few years and learned they have a precise and unflappable sense of logic.  If it's pink, it's supposed to be sweet.  Monsters never come out in the daytime.  And in the case of this book, if you're older, you're supposed to be taller.  Preschoolers see the order of the world according to their own logic, and will do everything in their power to set things straight if things get out of whack. And that's the situation in this book for the ever-logical Cork.  But Fuzz seldom plays by the same rules.  Sometimes it can be a good thing when he doesn't.

Kirkus Starred Review
In this delightful second installment, Cork the muskrat and Fuzz the possum struggle to resolve differences that jeopardize their friendship. Cork, who is older, notices that Fuzz is taller. In the duo's childlike estimation, older equals taller-it's simply a rule. Comical attempts to make Fuzz shorter, then Cork, taller, convey just the right mix of earnest endeavor and endearingly silly misapprehension. Chaconas's text and characterizations hearken back to the best of Harper's I Can Read program, evoking in particular the measured dialogue and sweet illogic of Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad. In turn, McCue's ink-and-watercolor illustrations pay tribute to Garth Williams, even as they offer up a pleasingly fresh color palette and singularly apt depictions of two hairy pals from toe to tail. This laugh-out-loud treat never falls short.

Like Cork & Fuzz (2004) in the Viking Easy-to-Read series, this chapter book featuring the muskrat Cork and the possum Fuzz is about two friends who look different but have a lot in common. Small, bossy Cork tries to make the friends the same. Maybe tall Fuzz should stop eating, or walk on his knees. Maybe Cork could stretch and grow bigger. McCue's warm ink-and-watercolor illustrations, with lots of delicate line details, show the characters' furry bodies, the stand-offs, and, finally, the hugs of the two best friends, "short and tall together." In the tradition of Arnold Lobel's classic Frog and Toad books and other animal friendship stories, this will please new readers and also make a cozy read-aloud. Preschoolers will especially relate to the small critter who wants to take charge. 
Hazel Rochman Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Horn Book
After reconciling the fact that they eat different things and may not have the same affinity for water sports (see last year's Cork & Fuzz), our heroes begin this second easy-reader entry in complete agreement: "One short muskrat. One tall possum. Two best friends." But their camaraderie is short-lived when they discover yet another a major obstacle--their height. As Cork says, "Something is not right.... I am older than you...but you are taller than me." So, believing such a discrepancy is against the rules of friendship, they search for a way to make the height difference disappear, trying all manner of outlandish schemes, from Fuzz walking on his knees to Cork hanging from a branch in an attempt to stretch his short frame. Soft ink-and-watercolor illustrations reaffirm the sweet theme: friends don't have to be exactly alike. Short sentences carry the sounds of natural conversations; vocabulary is easily decodable with ample context and illustrative clues to help in the process; pictures convey the action; and the four chapters create natural stopping and starting places in the text. This soothing story will fit beginning readers well as they try out their newfound skills. 
B. C. Copyright © Horn Book.  All rights reserved.

School Library Journal
A second beginning reader about the friendship between Cork, a muskrat, and Fuzz, a possum. Cork believes that something "is not right" because he is older, yet shorter than his friend. He asks Fuzz to walk on his knees and give up eating-painful strategies soon abandoned. Fuzz entreats Cork to grow by expanding his diet to include worms and hanging from a tree to stretch-unsuccessful propositions. Cork decides they must end this imbalanced friendship, causing Fuzz to shed tears, which fall on a large, wet nut. It lies next to a small, dry nut, and leads to the conclusion that "They are different-.But they are still nuts." Fuzz takes Cork to the edge of the pond to view their images and see that they are "Two best friends-short and tall together." Children will find comfort and delight in the bits of dialogue that reflect their own relationships. The first three chapters feature cliff-hanger endings to sustain appeal. McCue's illustrations capture just the right blend of pond-side realism and humanistic _expression to enchant readers and extend the text. Add this to Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" series (HarperCollins), Cynthia Rylant's "Poppleton" books (Scholastic), and Frank Asch's tales of Bear and Little Bird (S & S) for a friendship celebration.
Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. 

Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews
Cork is a muskrat and Fuzz is a possum and despite their differences they are the best of friends. One day Cork realizes that they have a problem. Cork is older than Fuzz and yet Cork is much smaller than the possum. As Cork explains, “it is a rule” that someone who is older should be taller. So an adamant Cork and a reluctant Fuzz try to find a way to make Fuzz shorter, and then, because Fuzz cannot be made to shrink, they try to find ways to make Cork taller. Unfortunately all their efforts turn out to be quite useless. Cork is still shorter than Fuzz. Cork then decides that since they are different, they cannot be friends. Poor Fuzz is quite miserable until he has a revelation, a revelation which finally helps Cork accept that being different is quite all right and that a muskrat and a possum can be the best of friends after all. This sweet and gently funny early reader helps put the whole “we are different” discussion into perspective for young readers. We are reminded that friendship should always supersede the differences that exist between us. Delightful facial expressions and their obvious distinct personalities make Cork and Fuzz a winning team. 





© 2006 Dori Chaconas