Monster siblings Alphonse and Natalie (Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do! 2016) return in a sympathetic story about learning to read.
Natalie is excited to go to school and to learn to read. She and her younger brother, Alphonse, love stories, both hearing them and telling them. But when the teacher hands Natalie her first primer, reading seems harder than expected, as “the letters and words looked like prickles or birds’ feet.” Despite the teacher’s encouragement to sound out the words, Natalie is frustrated by the difficulty as well as the absence of a real story in this book about a cat that sits. Practicing eventually gives her mastery of this book, but when Alphonse asks Natalie to read aloud one of his books, the letters and words look “like scuttling insects with too many legs and eyes.” Natalie declares, “I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE!” Instead, she decides to take care of her sick elephant, Sinéad, while making up her own more interesting story. Dad helps by writing the words to the pictures she draws with her brother, producing a homemade book she can read again and again. Bold, primary colors against white space create supportive scenes peopled by this lovable family of adorable, Muppet-like monsters eager to nurture some perseverance and full of patience with Natalie’s struggle and ultimate accomplishment. Natalie is on her way to reap the pleasures of learning to read, as seen in the endpapers, by authoring her own storybooks, a recognized strategy to foster beginning readers.
Learning to read can be hard, and this book offers youngsters tackling the skill needed sympathy. (Picture book. 5-7)