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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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