Max Spaniel by David Catrow

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If I was on Facebook, I’d start a page for people who like Max Spaniel.  Since I’m not, I’ll announce my love for David Catrow’s spaniel here.  I knew David Catrow’s work before he created his new canine hero.  The Inly Library has many of the picture books he’s illustrated, and I love Wet Dog by Elise Broach.  But when I “met” Max in his first book Dinosaur Hunt, I thought it was some of Catrow’s best work.  Now with the publication of Funny Lunch, Max’s second adventure, I’m even more of a fan.  Every time I look at Max’s expressive eyes, I laugh.  And his adventures are perfect for new readers.  So many young children want funny stories and Max is really funny.  When I realized Catrow lives in Springfield, Ohio, it all became clear.  As I’ve written about before, I grew up in Dayton, Ohio – not too far from Springfield.  I think it must be a certain Ohio sensibility that draws me to Max.  Whatever it is, I’m sold.  It may even convince me to join Facebook just so I can start a fan page.

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Just for Fun

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51YJsJaoLBL._SL500_AA240_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.