CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 31. . . .April 15, 2011.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2011.
24 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
Preschool / Ages 1-4.
Review by Barb Janicek.
All the animals of the forest and farm find shelter from a summer storm in which Kitten has been caught. As with Kitten’s Autumn and Kitten’s Spring, the illustrations in Kitten’s Summer bring each two-dimensional image to life with Fernandes’ three-dimensional mixed-media style. They evoke a luscious, humid summer day through the use of vibrant colour and big fat rain drops. The strawberries and snap peas at the end also indicate that it is summer, and not a spring shower.
Kitten’s Summer is a simple story, with just one rhyming couplet per page, but in very few words Fernandes creates an urgency to the plot: get out of the rain! She introduces the reader to animals – and their babies – which children will delight in naming. As all the animals are on the move, there are plenty of verbs, and children will gain some new vocabulary: dashes, skitters, scrambles, huddles, leaps and flutters, just to name a few. For those reading the book one-on-one, finding Kitten on each page is certain to entertain. Yet, the book will still be a crowd favourite for story circles in libraries and pre-schools.
Kitten’s Summer is a book which will be read again and again. Children will pick up on the rhyming text quickly and may be able to repeat it from memory, but with so much happening in each illustration, new details pop out upon each re-reading. Fernandes’ strength is in showing each animal in a very realistic and natural habitat, and keen observers will learn a lot about habitats and shelter, weather, and Canadian animals. I particularly love the loon with the baby on its back. The only animal more Canadian might be the beaver on a subsequent page.
The book follows the same pattern as others in the series: Kitten hiding on each page, more in each illustration than the text explicitly states, and the use of many synonyms for the concept associated with the season. Despite the familiarity of the formula, it still works.
Barb Janicek is a Children’s Librarian with Kitchener Public Library, in Kitchener, ON.
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