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What Are Comparatives and Superlatives?

From the Words Are CATegorical series

by Brian P. Cleary ; illustrated by Brian Gable

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5362-1
Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Cleary and Gable, those relatively cool cats, continue their Words are CATegorical series with this entry about comparatives and superlatives.

Taking comparatives and superlatives in turn, Cleary walks readers through the basic rule of adding -er/-est, then branches out to state that sometimes “more” or “most” is added at the front instead, and there are some words that have no set rules (good, bad, far). “Try taking a / describing word, / like bright. / Now add e-r. / You’ve made it a comparative / to name the brighter star.” Gable’s illustrations are the true stars here, his feline characters brimming with personality. The “brighter” spread features a sunglasses-clad, red-carpet star preening for a camera. The facing page shows the spotlights and cameras trained on a flashier diva, the original looking on in consternation. Bright backgrounds provide contrast for the cats’ hues, while the comparatives and superlatives are printed in color, contrasting with the black text. While Cleary nails his rhythms and rhymes for the most part, the sheer implausibility and craziness of some of his choices (the “longest curl” on a cat?) may give readers pause and interrupt the flow. Too, readers will want to savor the zaniness introduced by Gable’s pictures: “quietest” and “queasiest” sit side by side on a ride, the one a mime with a finger to his lips, the other a shocking shade of green.

Perhaps not the best, but better than many grammar books—definitely one to check out. (grammar rules) (Informational picture book. 7-9)