A useful instructional addition for beginning readers who need to experience success.

I SEE AND SEE

From the I Like To Read series

The latest entry in the I Like to Read series involves very little reading.

With just eight words repeated again and again, one short sentence per spread, and only 24 pages, success is almost guaranteed for struggling readers. The word “see” appears 12 times and without competition from other words that start with “s.” The picture-book trim size, as opposed to the standard early-reader format, is also nicely nonthreatening. The problem is that struggling readers are often smart enough to know that this isn't a real story. There is no plot. What the boy sees seems arbitrary and disconnected—a dog, three different trucks, flowers, an arborist (“a man” in a tree with a saw), a butterfly, a bird, a merry-go-round. There is no sense of neighborhood or place. Most reluctant new readers will know that the trucks are particular types—bulldozers, a cement truck, a street sweeper—but they are not challenged with this specific vocabulary. Lewin's charming pencil-and-watercolor illustrations and the winsome African-American boy who draws what he has seen at the end of the book rescue it from mediocrity. Teachers will want to point out that the drawings were made by the child who served as Lewin's model before assigning the inevitable task to “make a book about what you see.”

A useful instructional addition for beginning readers who need to experience success. (Picture book/early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3544-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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