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Children's Fiction Siblings

Hoogie in the Middle

by (author) Stephanie McLellan

illustrated by Dean Griffiths

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Apr 2013
Siblings, Parents, Emotions & Feelings
Recommended Age
3 to 7
Recommended Grade
p to 2
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Sometimes Hoogie feels like the hole in the middle of a donut. She isn't big and dependable like her sister Pumpkin. She isn't tiny and sweet like her brother Tweezle. She's just . . . Hoogie. Every day she hears, "You're too big for this" and "You're too small for that" until there's such a big little pain inside of her that she doesn't know what to do. Luckily Mom and Dad are there to show her what a very special place the middle can be.

Stephanie McLellan's rhythmic text uses an exuberance of rhyme, alliteration, and spot-on simile to affirm and celebrate the middle child.

About the authors

Stephanie McLellan is a passionate promoter of literacy and the author of the award-winning picture books The Chicken Cat and Leon's Song. Her 2013 title Hoogie in the Middle, inspired by her now-grown children, was a Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection, a Best Books for Kids & Teens selection, and a TVO Parents "Books to Read as a Family" Selection. Its companion book Tweezle into Everything has been enthusiastically received.

Stephanie McLellan's profile page

Dean Griffiths is a popular picture book artist with more than 25 titles to his name. His many awards include the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Book Prize for Maggie Can't Wait and the Chocolate Lily Award for Ballerinas Don't Wear Glasses. Dean's 2012 title Lumpito and the Painter from Spain has been nominated for the SYRCA Shining Willow Award and was a Bank Street Best Book. His most recent book is When Emily Carr Met Woo. Dean lives in Duncan, British Columbia, with his daughter.

Dean Griffiths' profile page


  • Short-listed, SCBWI Crystal Kite Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Short-listed, Resource Links Year's Best Selection

Editorial Reviews

About Hoogie in the Middle

2014 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award shortlist

2013 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

2013 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection

"With their tangles of brightly colored fur, tiny fangs and tiny horns, these feline-esque monsters offer different perspectives of what 'middle' can mean."—Kirkus Reviews

"This picture book is a terrific example of words and images doing their own job. The text gives us movement..., melody..., and, most of all, metaphor....Griffiths captures the body language of children (well, of childlike, horned, fanged, cat-like things) perfectly."—Quill & Quire

"Not all children's books need to be moralistic; some just express, simply and effectively, how it feels to be a child...Combine Stephanie McLellan's gentle and effective wordplay with Dean Griffiths' fabulous, colourful illustrations, and you have a book that feels like Hoogie at the end: 'like the jelly in the middle of a sandwich: Sweet.'"—Resource Links

"[A] charming text...The vigor and color are compelling, but it is the details that fascinate. Facial expressions and body language capture the confidence and joie-de-vivre of Pumpkin, the cuteness of Tweezle, and the angst of Hoogie. Both the humor and perceptiveness are endearing."—CM Magazine

"Hoogie in the Middle and Tweezle into Everything explore the wonder of childhood and the average day-to-day dilemmas and real-life emotions of children with siblings. Wonderful books to read aloud that provide an opportunity for discussion among parents and children."—Canadian Children's Book News


User Reviews

Monica Kulling reviews "Hoogie In the Middle"

Hoogie in the Middle by Stephanie McLellan and Dean Griffiths
Little monster Hoogie is situated smack in the middle of her two siblings — older sister Pumpkin and younger, adorable, baby brother Tweezle. Hoogie feels overlooked, unsung, and just plain invisible. She tries with all her might to be herself, but hasn’t found a way to do that yet. Mom and Dad clap and clap when Pumpkin pirouettes. They cheer when Tweezle toddles. But they completely ignore inspired Hoogie when, dressed as a bunny, she hops and hops for their entertainment.

Such is the plight of the middle child. How do you compete with a cuddly younger sibling? How do you become someone Mom and Dad can count on when your older sister already occupies that spot? It’s a tough spot to be in.

Any child, monster or not, will love the ending of this vibrantly told story. Hoogie’s parents prove to be smart and sensitive. Even though I found Dad to be a particularly scary green monster, with those fangs, horns, and ominous eyebrows, he’s the first to offer Hoogie relief from her middle-child woes.

Stephanie McLellan’s assured telling and Dean Griffiths’s colorful and imaginative illustrations make Hoogie in the Middle a winner for any child, no matter where they fit in. The entire package is a delight, including the trim size, which is perfect for little hands and little laps.

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