Who would have thought that a balding white homebody and his orange cat could become beloved stars of a long-running series for first- and second-graders?
In the 25th installment of the ongoing saga of Mr. Putter and Tabby, Mr. Putter waxes nostalgic about the joys of sledding. Then ever ready and daring neighbor Mrs. Teaberry, also white, produces sleds. The adventurers take off—down the hill like a rocket after her bulldog, Zeke, and his cat, Tabby, who also share a sled. The expressions of horror on Tabby's face are priceless. The après-sledding comfort of a warm bath, muffins and cream, and a cozy chair are palpable. Rylant proves once again that it is possible to turn an elegant phrase, even with a limited word list. “The next thing Mr. Putter knew, / he had no sled, / no cat, / and no fun. / Fun was already halfway down the slope.” The arrangement of the simple, declarative text, with repeated words lined up, helps beginning readers decode and read fluently. Howard's pencil, watercolor, and gouache illustrations both reflect the text and provide contextual cues as well as adding to the subtle humor.
Simple words can still surprise with adventure and humor. Cowabunga! (Early reader. 6-9)