I SEE AND SEE

From the I Like To Read series

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

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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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