CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 21. . . .February 5, 2010.
Ann Bryant. Illustrated by Kirsteen H. Jones.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $18.36 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3900-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3869-5 (hc.).
Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.
Review by Bruce Dyck.
“Quick! Run!” said Sid.
“Wolf is coming!”
“Ha, Ha!” laughed Wolf.
Tag, part of Crabtree’s “Tadpole” series aimed at beginning readers, is a new take on an old story. It begins with Sid the pig cooking in his straw house as the wolf arrives. Sid the pig flees to his bother Dan’s house which is made out of, you guessed it, sticks. Upon the arrival of the wolf, both brothers flee to their bother Mick’s brick house. However, Mick forgets to lock the door, and the wolf gets into the house. The three pigs attempt to escape out the chimney, but the wolf is too smart for them and is waiting for them outside. As the first of the three reaches the ground, the wolf runs up to him and shouts, “Tag!”
There are a lot of things to like about this book, starting with the illustrations. At first glance, they look like the typical watercolour illustrations found in many children’s books, but there is a bit more to them. Kirsteen H. Jones obviously had some fun with them. There is a bit of misdirection in the hungry expression on the face of the wolf as he approaches the first pig’s house. The expression comes not from the wolf’s hunger for pig but from the delicious smells wafting out of the pig’s kitchen. With believably frightened pigs and a mischievously grinning wolf, the illustrations do a good job of not letting the reader in on the ending while still hinting that all might not be as it seems.
As good as the illustrations are, it is the text that really shines. At last, a beginning reader book that is interesting to read! As most beginning reader books will be read out-loud as part of the reader’s learning process, I like to take any early reader books I am reviewing and read them aloud to one or both of my sons to see how a given text translates orally. Not only did it translate well, but, in a singular event within our household, my oldest son was compelled to leave his room and request a re-reading.
At the risk of sounding to much like a cheerleader, Tag, is a great example of how a beginning reader book should be done. There is some subtle, unwritten alliteration, Mick’s brick house, and an easy, almost poetic, flow, combined with fun story-supportive illustrations. The only thing I would change is the title. Tag gives a bit too much away for my tastes, but then that is probably just my belief that there is no such thing as perfect.
Residing in Winnipeg, MB, Bruce Dyck is currently employed by his wife and two sons as a stay-at-home dad.
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