Larrabee enjoyed Bird & Squirrel on Ice so much that as soon as he finished reading it to himself, he read it aloud to me.
Bird & Squirrel on Ice is the second in a series of graphic novels written and illustrated by James Burks. Larrabee liked all three, but this one is his favorite.
The books feature best friends, Bird and Squirrel. They’re an “opposites attract” pair reminiscent of other favorites of mine such as Frog & Toad or Elephant & Piggie. Bird never thinks before he acts. Squirrel is a cautious worrier.
In this adventure, they end up at the South Pole where they help a group of penguins defeat a killer whale. The book features an engaging story and lots of humorous dialogue.
I love retellings of fairy tales, myths, and other familiar stories. By mixing well-known plot elements with a new setting, genre, or perspective, an author gives us a story that is both comfortingly recognizable and surprising.
My favorite type of retelling is the “inside scoop” variety. The story that tells you what really happened.
So I was intrigued by the opening of The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder:
“When you hear the tale of Cinderella, do you ever wonder about the rats who were turned into coachmen by her fairy godmother?… Now settle yourselves in comfort, and be sure you’ve plenty of provisions upon which to nibble, for you are about to hear the true story from Cinderella herself… and from me. My name is Char. In former days, they called me the Rat Prince.”
Larrabee will be the first to admit that he’s no expert on Cinderella. He’s seen the Disney movie, of course. And he loved Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine this summer–although he was well into the book before he realized it was a Cinderella story. Recently, his 2nd grade class read two very different Cinderella stories–Trollerella by Karen Stegman-Bourgeois and Bubba, the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman.
He agreed to read The Rat Prince with me, and we both enjoyed it. Prince Char of the Northern Rat Realm is an excellent addition to the story–and a worthy hero. Who knew that the rats in the castle were such interesting characters?
While Grandma and Grandpa were visiting last week, Larrabee pulled an old favorite off the bookshelf: Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman.
It’s an early reader, first published in 1958, about an owl (Sam) and a firefly (Gus) who become nocturnal playmates and friends. It was one of my brother’s favorite read-aloud books and one of my boys’ frequent choices as well.
This time Larrabee read it to Grandma. I’m not sure he remembered it. But all of the adults sure did. Mom, Dad, Mark, and I could recite whole pages by heart. “Look out!” we used to say. “The Hot Dog Man is MAD!”
As a read-aloud, this book is a good one for talking about words–and about the difference between bad tricks and good tricks. It also makes a good early reader because it tells a long, satisfying story with simple words and lots of pictures.
Larrabee mainly reads longer books now, but I’m glad we still have a chance to revisit some old favorites every now and then.