My husband likes to tease me about my preference for the predictable, but in the topsy-turvy world of parenting, I take great comfort in the repetitive rhythms of my day. Because of my 7-year-old’s after-school activities, I plan make-ahead meals of roasted chicken on Mondays and spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesdays. (No need to phone home and ask “What’s for dinner?”) And when I make my twice-weekly visit to our local fish market, the guys behind the counter are already poised behind the flounder and shrimp. “What’s the matter?,” one of the fish men once inquired when I opted for salmon. Geez, am I really that set in my ways? Maybe that’s why I can relate to the title character in the brand-new children’s picture book, C.R. Mudgeon. He’s a hedgehog who knows just what he likes and when he likes it: from his favorite nightly routine, to his special dessert reserved just for Tuesdays. As the book says, “C.R. Mudgeon liked things to stay the same.” But one day when a new neighbor named Paprika the squirrel moves into town, C.R.’s life gets a bit shaken up, to say the least. Suddenly, there’s too much color, too much noise and before you know it, WHAM! Sensory overload knocks the hedgehog off his paws. He finally has the last straw when Paprika tries to introduce her neighbor to a world of spicy food and wild music–neither of which suits this practical curmudgeon in the slightest. But after a odd twist of events, C.R. suddenly realizes that a life without Paprika is a life that’s…frankly, boring. Whenever I try to remember my own life before kids, I can hardly remember what silence sounds like. And from what my empty nester friends and family tell me, I’ll miss the cacophony of kids once they’re gone. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself swallowing back the lump in your throat when reading this delightful story to your own little nutty bunch. As for me, I may not break with routine often …but I do add a dash of paprika to my roasted chicken. On Mondays.