CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 17 . . . . April 18, 2008
Sammy is a small cat who can’t do some of the things his larger cat friends can do. Despite his efforts, his friends tell him he is too small and needs to grow! He tries everything to make himself grow. However, he soon realizes that his small size can be an advantage. He discovers a secret. He can crawl into the house during a rainstorm while his larger cat friends have to stay outside in the rain!
This gentle story of Sammy is told with very easy vocabulary which will appeal to young readers. The illustrations are bright, lively and full of action. Sammy’s face gives the reader insight into his feelings as he is trying to do some of the things his larger friends are doing. Readers can see the effort in his face and the disappointment when he is told, “You’re too small.”
The retelling of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic story in Five Teddy Bears is a story about five teddy bears taking a walk through the woods on the way to a picnic. One by one, they decide to do other things until only one bear is left to bring cake for everyone!
This book is very structured and easy to read; however, it is a story that has been told many times before. The illustrations are bright but add little to the story. Many of the pages are full of leafy tress and give little additional information to readers about the characters and their actions.
These two books are part of the “Tadpoles” series from Crabtree Publishing Company. Parents and teachers can read the books aloud to young listeners, or more competent young readers can read them on their own. This kind of structured early reading experience helps young readers to grow in independence and leads to their reading more complex materials.
The texts also have some interesting features. As a sort of introduction in Sammy’s Secret, the author, Margaret Nash, talks about her own cat Tabitha, and illustrator Anni Axworthy talks about her two dogs. Young readers can make connections to their own experiences with cats before they begin reading. This kind of reading strategy will help them to understand the text more effectively. Parents will also appreciate the suggestions for reading at the end of the book. Perhaps the best suggestion is the first one, “Make reading time fun!”
Myra Junyk is the former Program Co-ordinator of Language Arts and Library Services at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Currently, she is working as a literacy advocate and author.
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