Sprinklers say the darnedest things.
Let’s backtrack. Sprinklers are blob-shaped critters of diverse size and color who are helpers of the Sprinkle Fairy. They appear in each of the six brief, unrelated stories about a boy named Cris and his cat, Crat, to introduce, with fanfare (“Big Word! Big Word!”), an unfamiliar word to emergent and early-middle-grade readers. There’s an arbitrary feel to the presentation, as though the tales were constructed around the words. The words are ones readers may not have realized they might want to know: “purloined,” “discombobulated,” “bamboozled,” “smithereens,” and “galoshes.” More commonplace words in the stories that young children may feel are equally important, including “wizard,” “fairy,” or “sprinkle,” aren’t singled out (although, granted, they aren’t as big). Each new word gets special treatment: It’s used several times in context, sometimes in different forms; a pronunciation guide is provided; and it’s defined at the story’s conclusion. The final tale reinforces all the new vocabulary. Perhaps due to this conceit, the stories are only faintly amusing, with endings that fall flat. The cartoon illustrations, however, reminiscent of those in Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie books, are whimsical, expressive, and appealing, and they feature ample white space and capitalized sound effects. Cris and the Sprinkle Fairy are both pale-skinned, but depicted groups are diverse.
It’s not the worst way to introduce some new, unusual words, but this is unlikely to stimulate repeat readings. (Early reader. 5-8)