January 4, 2016

Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:01 am by suebe2

Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Arthur Howard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mr. Putter wants to do something special for Mrs. Teaberry’s birthday.  He knows that he could get her ice cream and cake and balloons, but he does that every year and he wants this year to be different.  So he thinks about the things that Mrs. Teaberry likes and recalls how often she tells him about her maple trees and her roses. Clearly she likes plants.  The best place to experience fantastic plants?  The Conservatory.

On Mrs. Teaberry’s birthday, she and Mr. Putter dress extra nice.  He drives them, and her good dog Zeke and his fine cat Tabby, to the Conservatory.  He explains to Zeke that if he can be a good dog, Mr. Putter will give him a surprise. The group stroles around enjoying the smells of damp earth and fresh flowers. They enjoy the sunlight streaming in through the tall windows.

Zeke manages to be good for 5 whole minutes.  Then he spots something that he just knows must the his surprise and he goes after it for all he’s worth.

I don’t want to give away the ending of the book, but suffice it to say that Zeke has not spotted his surprise.  What he has spotted, as usual, causes trouble, and soon the group is being ushered out the door.  Don’t worry!  The good news is that there is more celebrating to be had.

I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to pick up this book in January.  Do people want to read spring time stories in the cold of winter?  For some the answer is yes because they don’t like the snow.  But this isn’t a spring time story.  We don’t really know what time of year it takes place because the setting is indoors.

Check out this fun book for your new reader.  Each chapter contains a complete, albeit short, story. Added together, your reader will get a satisfying story all about friendship and mistakes and making the best of things without dwelling on what hasn’t gone as planned.


August 13, 2015

Mr. Putter and Tabby Spill the Beans by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:17 am by suebe2

Mr. Putter and Tabby Spill the Beans
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Arthur Howard
Harcourt Children’s Books

Mr. Putter and Tabby head off to another adventure with Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke.  This time they are taking a cooking class.  Mrs. Teaberry is sure it will be fun.  Mr. Putter will admit that some of the new things they try, like the tandem bike, are great fun.  Other things?  Not so fun.

On the way to the cooking class, Mrs. Teaberry’s tells him it is 100 ways to cook beans.  Mr. Putter is pretty sure this will not be the most fun he’s ever had but he’s not ready to give up on his friend.  Not surprisingly, they are the only two people to show up to class with pets.  The instructor tells them it will be okay as long as Tabby and Zeke stay under the table.

During the first recipe, Mr. Putter was wide awake.  By recipe 7, he’s yawning.  By recipe 14, he’s snoring and Zeke has found the granola bar in someone’s purse.  All hilarity breaks out when the lady reaches into her bag for her granola bar and finds Zeke instead.  I don’t want to ruin the funny parts so you’ll have to read it to find out what slap stick things occur.

Finding good early readers can be tough.  Many of them don’t really have a story so it is hard to keep your new reader engaged from beginning to end.  The great thing about the Mr. Putter and Tabby books is that they have two things that young readers love — an actual story and humor.  Some of the humor is in the text, but Arthur Howard ramps it up with the additions he makes to the story through the illustrations.  As Mrs. Teaberry takes notes, we learn what it is they are learning to cook.  Tacos.  Pretty basic.  Lima bean gingersnaps?  Ewww!   Three bean jello?  Ugh!

A new reader doesn’t have to read each story from beginning to end.  Because these stories are a little longer, they are broken into seven chapters.  The ability to conquer just a few pages in one sitting will help booster your reader’s confidence.  Share this story with the new reader in your life.


February 23, 2015

Mr. Putter and Tabby Dance the Dance by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:20 am by suebe2

Mr. Putter and Tabby Dance the Dance
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Arthur Howard
Harcourt Children’s Books

As you can see, I’m on a bit of an easy reader kick.  Part of it is because I’ve rediscovered the Mr. Putter and Tabby books and am especially enjoying the titles that have come out since my son was a new reader.  That said, I wasn’t sure how Rylant was going to pull this one off.  Ballroom dancing?  For new readers?  But she does.

Mrs. Teaberry has been watching a television show about ballroom dancing.  It looks like fun so she decides that she and Mr. Putter should give it a try.  Mr. Putter isn’t so sure.  He finally agrees, because she is his friend, but hopes he’ll like it more than he liked roller skating.

The four friends, because of course the pets have come along, arrive at the ballroom to discover a world of sparkling lights and sparkling costumes.  Mr. Putter doesn’t know the rumba or the foxtrot but he’s certain he can manage a one-two-cha-cha-cha.  He and Mrs. Teaberry head out onto the dance floor.

So does Zeke.  This is often where things go awry because Zeke gets into some mischief.  Out on the dance floor, he grabs a set of tuxedo tails and the rose from a tangoing couple.  Everyone is having such a great time, they simply don’t mind.  The message is clear — everyone belongs on the dance floor.

As someone with two left feet, I’m not 100% certain I agree — let’s just say that I’d be much harder to get out there than Mr. Putter.  But the message comes through loud and clear as Mr. Putter tries something new with his friend and has a great time.  His crew may not be a sleek or as stylish as the majority of couples but out on the dance floor it just doesn’t matter.  That’s a message that we need to hear much more often in our society.

Zeke’s antics will help pull boys into this book but with the emphasis on sparkle the appeal to girls is more direct.  That said, if you don’t share it with your young male reader, he will miss a very important message, subtly delivered.


February 16, 2015

Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 1:49 am by suebe2

Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Arthur Howard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I used to read the Mr. Putter and Tabby series on a regular basis back when my young reader was just starting to read independently, but he’s 15 now.  I was thrilled to rediscover this series at my local library.

Mr. Putter and Tabby share a love of many quiet activities from taking a bath to napping to reading.  Not surprisingly, they have favorite books.  Mr. Putter loves cowboys.  Tabby loves rabbits.  They both love gardening.

At the library, Mr. Putter sees a sign-up sheet for story time with your pet.  He signs up to do this with Tabby and then tells his friend Mrs. Teaberry about the opportunity.

Mrs. Teaberry loves new things so it isn’t surprising that she latches onto this idea.  Will anyone want to hear Mr. Putter and Tabby after hearing Mrs. Teaberry and her good dog Zeke?  Mr. Putter practices reading with gusto.

If you haven’t read Mr. Putter and Tabby, you may be surprised that to discover just how funny these took are.  There is generally a slapstick, silly element that appeals to the youngest readers.  This comes through in Arthur Howard’s expressive, colorful illustrations.

There is also a more subtle side to the humor.  Often these jokes come through the text or subtleties in the illustrations (look for Mrs. Teaberry’s cookies and check out the ingredients).

Because this is an early reader, the illustrations may expand on the text but only a little.  Their true role is to support the text and the reader, providing clues for words the reader may have troubles deciphering.

If you haven’t read these books, share them with your young reader who is working to develop his own reading skills.  There is enough to these books that you can also share them with your picture book-aged child.  These books are great read-alouds.

Don’t glance at the illustrations and put them down because the characters are not kids.  They may be a little older than many early reader characters but these two are kids at heart.  Whether your young reader is somewhat shy or a real fire cracker, she will identify with one of these characters.


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