Question: What do a pair of newlywed woodchucks, a squirrel, a testy snake, a skunk, and a couple of bats have in common with a family of pudgy human beings named Hubble?Answer: Their lives are all turned topsy-turvey by a tyrannical toddler named Margaret.
Question: Will Margaret ever realize that there’s more to life than being mean? Answer: Read this touching comedy and find out.
Fred, a neat, tidy, and prejudiced woodchuck, vehemently doesn’t want anything to mess up his life. But then he dreams about being married and begins to crave socialization.
This arc within Fred growing from an isolated bachelor to “normal” was aggravating to me. I felt like we spent too much time learning how neat and tidy he was, as it was literally chapters. Then we spent even more chapters looking for a wife while we learned how judgmental he was (note the lines about how stupid and sloppy rabbits are).
Learning about Fred made it feel more like I read two books. One about Fred finding Phoebe and one about Fred with Margaret (who doesn’t appear until midway through the book). Which I felt was odd given that the title is Mean Margaret and the back copy blatantly talks about having to deal with a crazy child; you would think the problem would show up earlier.
And although I was expecting the character change in Fred at the end, I wish it had been shown earlier. Fred talks about how the kids are Babbette’s responsibility, how filthy humans are, and how stupid other animals are, but he—at least for me—never really atones for it. He just decides to move into the cave with the other animals at the end and never acknowledges what a bigot he’d been and how being with the animals in the cave helped to change him.
I don’t think he ever really saw how horrible he was—and while I am happy that he changed at the end, I don’t really understand why he did.