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)