Monday, June 17, 2013

The Books Have Gone to the Animals

Dylan's Day
by Tim Hutchinson

Narrated by a playful brown dog named Dylan. This beautifully illustrated books begins as Dylan awakens in the morning and begins to go through a mental list of all of the important tasks of the day, sniffing and searching around his home. The most vital charge of the day is to locate the "big fat cat that lives next door". Dylan runs around and through the house in search of the "big fat cat", but when the big fat cat finds Dylan, runs as fast as he can back to his bed to forget the "big fat cat that lives next door".

I love dogs. Cats are okay too, but I love dogs. Dylan's Day reminds me of my ever excited and loving dog, Angel. She wants to be friends with my Georgia cat, who will be 18 in July. She can never get close enough to Georgia to love on her because she brings out the claws and begins to hiss as soon as Angel gets close. The illustrations bring this book to life. Some pages have full page illustrations, others spotlight one theme / area with a surrounding white background. The somewhat muted colors are soothing and do not overpower the charming story of a typical young dog who loves adventure.

I highly recommend this book for all library with a children's collection. This will be a well loved book by toddlers, as well as older elementary children who love dogs.

A No-Sneeze Pet
by Diana G. Gallagher
On the way to the dog park, Kyle and Mia see their friend Emma and invite her to go along with them. Emma is excited, but reluctant to get too friendly with Rex, Kyle's dog. Mia and Kyle soon discover that although Emma loves animals and desperately wants a pet, her mother is extremely allergic to animal fur.

Kyle and Mia decide they are going to do whatever they can to find the perfect "no-sneeze pet" for Emma. The three friends visit and talk to a number of people to get an idea for the very best pet for Emma, one that will not bother her mother's allergies - fur-free. They visit the pet store, a friend's brother who owns a snake, the Bird Lady, a man with an iguana, and finally a little girl who owns a hamster. After visiting all of the various pet owners Emma finally makes her decision. You will have to read the book to see which "no-sneeze pet" Emma chose.

I would recommend this book for children from age 5 to age 8. The text is not too challenging for early readers or too simplified for more advanced readers. It is a low level reading book, but will be grabbed by animals lovers. There is a table of contents showing each of the eight chapters, a glossary, discussion questions, writing prompts,Internet links for online activities and pet care tips for the pet Emma eventually chooses (again, you will have to read the book to find out the animal she chooses).

Cassie and the Woolf
 by Olivia Snowe

We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but in this modern retelling, the main character is named Cassie Cloak, and she wears a red raincoat. Instead of taking nicely packed lunch from her mother, Cassie runs by the Deli in order to pick up her grandmother's Sunday dinner. Unlike the original tale, this story does not have a wolf, but a Woolf ~ an eighth grade boy named, Caleb Woolf.

I don't want to spoil Ms. Snowe's version of the tale. I will just say, it reads more like an episode of CSI or The Mentalist. All of the familiar characters are included Cassie Cloak (Red Riding Hood), Caleb Woolf (the Big Bad Wolf), Grandma, Dr. Hunter (the Lumberjack). No one gets eaten, but there is plenty of deception.

Personally, I don't care for the illustrations. The color scheme of black, white, and red fits well with the story line, but had I been reading a traditional copy of the book (not an e-book) I think the cartoonish illustrations might have been a distraction. However, they might be more appealing to the target age group.

At this time four books are to be released August 1st in the Twicetold Tales series. Included in the series are the following titles: Cassie and the Woolf, Girl and the Seven Thieves, Home in the Sky, and Sealed-Up House all written by Olivia Snowe. I have not had the opportunity to read the other titles, but the titles are intriguing.

At the end of the book there are some wonderful elements, including a brief synopsis of the original book first published in 1697 by Charles Perrault as Le Petit Chaperon Rouge.The author also gives the reader a chance to create their very own Twicetold Tale by making selections from a variety of lists. It is a great way to aide in the creative writing process and encourage young writers to blossom in a non-threatening manner. I think I would write my story about a  princess who doesn't want to get married. She lives in a tree fort in New York City with a dog. One day is visited by the terrible queen who gives her a pretzel. Hmmm...I guess I need to add more details to make it a great story, but I have an outline, and so will anyone who reads this book and accepts the challenge.

I would highly recommend Cassie and the Woolf for school and public libraries.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Pinwheel Books, Capstone Press, and Twice Told Tales have provided a complimentary electronic copy of each of these books through