Thursday, February 26, 2015

Learning from Picture Books: Here Comes the Easter Cat

I love the way this book sparks imagination with the unexpected! It's a good one for writers to read if they are worried their work is too predictable.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Why should the Easter Bunny get all the love? That's what Cat would like to know. So he decides to take over: He dons his sparkly suit, jumps on his Harley, and roars off into the night. But it turns out delivering Easter eggs is hard work. And it doesn't leave much time for naps (of which Cat has taken five--no, seven). So when a pooped-out Easter Bunny shows up, and with a treat for Cat, what will Cat do? His surprise solution will be stylish, smart, and even--yes--kind.

An homage to classic comic strips from the author of The Quiet Book and The Loud Book, this Easter treat has a bit of bite, a sweet center, and a satisfying finish—sure to inspire second helpings.

Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda was published in 2014 by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York.

This book is a finalist for a Cybils Award.

My thoughts as a writer:

It was so much fun the way the main character interacts with the narrator through the use of signs. It's really a conversation between the narrator and the book character, This is a perfect example of how illustrations and text work together to tell a story. I admired the lovely illustrations --  they are simple yet show so much emotion.

This book shows how you could write an imaginative story by taking a twist on a familiar concept, like the Easter Bunny, and taking it on a different path by asking yourself questions about what happened next (or in this case, what the main character needs to solve problems).

My thoughts as a teacher:

This is a fun story to read with preschool and kindergarten students. There are lots of opportunities to make predictions about what might happen in the story. The character expressions show so many different feelings to discuss with children! It’s also very interesting that the cat communicates by using signs, an idea that children could incorporate into their play.

Some possible activities:
- encourage children to make signs and retell the story
- talk about what other jobs the cat might do (e.g., Tooth Fairy) and what might happen
- discuss being helpful and say or write one way to help a friend (e.g., this could even be done by writing a message on a paper cutout of an egg for a "Helpful" Easter basket display)

If you're looking for more great picture books to read to your class or to investigate as a writer, author Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful list of Perfect Picture Books.

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