Another successful addition to the I Like to Read series: “I see a winner!” (Early reader. 4-8)

I SEE A CAT

From the I Like To Read series

Ten words may be all it takes to convince some young children to try reading.

An expressive dog, locked inside on a sunny day, is increasingly frustrated by its confinement. Each sentence begins: “I see a….” “Cat,” “bird,” “fly,” “squirrel,” “mice,” “bee,” and so on complete the sentence on successive subsequent double-page spreads. Almost all the action takes place on the other side of a sliding-glass door. Only the fly is inside, buzzing annoyingly around the dog in four vignettes. When a brown-skinned child appears, the dog is clearly delighted. Freed at last, the dog immediately chases the squirrel up a tree. Despite its limited vocabulary, Meisel’s simple story is surprisingly satisfying. New readers will fill in the missing details from clues in the uncluttered illustrations, several spreads of which are completely wordless. For example, the child is first shown with a backpack—just returning home from school, perhaps? Even before the title page, a wordless frontmatter sequence begins the story. On the title page the dog’s eyes clearly signal displeasure at having to come inside. “Squirrel,” the hardest of the 10 words used, appears three times, providing practice while also making it clear that the squirrel is dog’s chief antagonist. The repeated sentence structure helps build confidence and fosters reading fluency.

Another successful addition to the I Like to Read series: “I see a winner!” (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3680-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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