We are in the middle of our school’s book fair so in between the busy times, I spend lots of time looking at picture books and easy readers. As everyone knows, it’s a mixed bag. There are some wonderful clever stories and some derivative Hallmark card-like books. I decided to select two early chapter/easy reader books that are well-done and entertaining. I had a limited selection—just what was in the book fair. I wanted clever text and good illustrations. More than good actually—illustrations that made me smile and complemented the text.
I got a pile and began to read. There were a few that I felt like I’d read many times before. With a few I felt like I couldn’t get past page three. There were a few classics (like Frog and Toad) but I was looking for something new. I wanted to love them so much that I couldn’t wait to pass it on to kids in our school library. And the winners of my “quiet moments at the book fair” contest are….
Dinosaur Hunt by David Catrow and A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton
It’s the cover of Dinosaur Hunt that got me. Such a fun little spaniel face! And the first lines: “My name is Max. I am not a dog. I am a great hunter.” That was it. I was hooked. There’s a priceless picture of page 3 of Max looking through his drinking glass. I love the humorous play between text and illustration. And then I got to the end and realized that the author and illustrator David Catrow lives in Ohio. My favorite state! My home state! No wonder I love this book!
A Birthday for Bear had a bit of a head start in my small contest. I loved the first picture book which featured these two characters. A Visitor for Bear was released last year and this is a follow up “chapter book.” I didn’t even have to read the text to love it. It’s the Bear’s and the Mouse’s expressions. And the cozy house. I’m looking at it right now and it makes me smile. Sometimes that’s all a book needs to do.