Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for Trouble gum
Trouble gum
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Feiwel and Friends, 2009.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Playing indoors with his little brother on a rainy day, a rambunctious young pig causes a ruckus and then breaks his mother's three chewing gum rules.


Call Number

On Order



From Matthew Cordell, the author-illustrator of the Caldecott award-winning book Wolf in the Snow , comes this delightful picture book that's as charming as it is fun.

It's raining.

There's nothing to do.

Ruben is bored.

But things start looking up when his grandmother gives him and his little brother some gum.

Gum is fun. There's just one problem with gum--it tends to make a mess!

Uh-oh. . . .

Author Notes

Matthew Cordell is the Caldecott award-winning author and illustrator of Wolf in the Snow, Trouble Gum , Another Brother , hello! hello! , and Wish . He has illustrated numerous books by renowned authors including Philip Stead ( Special Delivery ), Rachel Vail (the Justin Case series), and Gail Carson Levine ( Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems ). He lives with his family in Gurnee, Illinois.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Ruben Figg is older brother pig to bespectacled Julius, and one rainy day he decides to show his sibling how the big pigs chew gum. Grammy provides the bubble gum while Mom reiterates the ground rules (chew it, don't play with it). After smacking the gum this way and that, Ruben accidentally swallows it and has to plead for a new piece. Grammy is happy to oblige while Mom halfheartedly agrees. Unfortunately, Ruben presses his luck and ends up getting a glob of gum stuck in a blanket Mom knitted. A repentant piglet is sent to his room, but the fun doesn't stop there because Julius sneaks more gum from Grammy's purse and the brothers wind up covered in sticky pink. Grammy and Mom scrub them clean, but there is still one last bubble blast in store. Humorous illustrations are best viewed one-on-one where the many mischievous details can be appreciated.-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Working with a stripped-down palette of black, white, red and bubblegum pink, Cordell's (Mighty Casey) first solo effort evokes irrepressible boyhood with laughs throughout. Stir-crazy on a rainy day, older brother Ruben and his little brother, Julius, two piglets at loose ends, are given some gum by their Grammy, but not without a reminder from Mom about the bubblegum rules ("Don't swallow your gum. Don't play with your gum. And don't blow big, sticky bubbles with your gum"). Unsurprisingly, they can't resist the temptation to do all these things and more ("Fortunately, this wasn't the first piece of gum Ruben had gotten stuck in Mom's knitting," reads the text as spot art shows Ruben frantically tearing at a gum-smeared blanket. "He knew just what to do"). Dozens of Steig-like pen and ink drawings show the antics of the partners in crime and Ruben's attempts to educate Julius in the ways of acting like a "big pig." The picture of a loving, unpretentious family sustains the hilarity throughout, while creative onomatopoeia ("SMAK SMAK SMIK SMAK") provides yet more giggles. Ages 2-6. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Despite Mom's sage warnings, piglet Ruben and his little brother Julius wreak havoc with multiple sticks of gum (first proffered by, then filched from Grammy) and a newly knit blanket. Ruben's purposeful instruction sticks ("This is how the big pigs stretch a piece of gum, Julius"): Even after the boys' de-gumming bath, it's Julius who provides both the ultimate laugh and the biggest bubble by far. Cordell mingles retro elements effectively, with a three-color palette of gray, pig-pink and red text typeset in Century Schoolhouse (think Dick and Jane) and myriad ink-and-wash spots that channel Steig, big time. These vignettes are offset by genuinely funny sound effects"crinkle wrackle crackle" yields to "smik smak smak," which leads inevitably to "stuuuurch" The display type in many sizes fills copious white spacein fact, the generous 48-page layout is a bit of a stretch for this tale. There's much detail to pore and giggle over, though, and the endpapersfront ones sporting bubbles blown to enormous size then bursting impressively in the backare a hoot. Packs plenty of pop. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Cordell, illustrator for James Preller's Mighty Casey (2009), dons the author cap for the first time with this picture book. Staving off boredom during a dreary afternoon, pig siblings Ruben and Julius amuse themselves with bubble gum from Grammy. They don't normally get to chew gum because Mom thinks it just ends up making trouble. With infectious good cheer, Ruben proves Mom right time and again, accidentally swallowing one piece, getting another snarled up in a freshly knit blanket, and covering himself and his younger brother in sticky pink goo after blowing a massive bubble with a third. The simple story line and liberal use of white space open plenty of opportunities for Cordell's winsome art to generate laughs. Even better are the sound effects bouncing around each page, from the smak smak smik smak of chewing to the shuff . . . uff . . . whuff of bubble blowing. A few understated sibling notes sneak into the minimal presentation as well, making this book more than just a pure giggle-maker.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist