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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Review: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

You may already know Tad Hills from Duck & Goose, and now he's branching out to more characters. Rocket the dog isn't interested in learning to read but one day, in his napping spot, a little yellow bird appears and wants to teach him to read. He tries to leave, but the bird starts to read a story... and doesn't finish. Rocket comes back the next day and asks the bird to read the end of the story. The bird agrees that's a good way to start class.

After classes start, Rocket learns A and B and C and so on. He learns to string letters together and sound them out. But at the end of fall, the little yellow bird goes away. All winter Rocket makes words on his own. Words like SNOW and COLD. Once he spells MUD, he starts looking for the little bird. And he's thrilled when she reappears! And they start to read books.

The book is incredibly cute. It's a natural for book people, but luckily it also has a good story as well as a good lesson. It's a little unusual for a book to show that people need to be taught to read. Some kids think they should just know and feel self-conscious that they don't. This also can make them reluctant to learn. Other children might just be nervous about school, and think teachers might be mean.
There are just so many great things about this book. Even the words Rocket spells tell part of the story. The attention to detail that Mr. Hills pays is so respectful both of children's ability to notice tiny things, and also adults' tedium when they have to read a book repeatedly. I loved Rocket's tail hanging out of the bush while he's listening to the bird tell the story, and the bird teaching with a worm in her mouth, and most especially the subtle change of the seasons in the background. This book isn't just for reluctant readers, but for all kids (and parents) who love books as well.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

2 comments:

Julie P. said...

I absolutely loved this one too. I think it's one of my favorite picture books of 2010.

Laura Fabiani said...

What a great review! This book sounds like the perfect book for any child learning to read. My boy is learning to read in two languages, English and French and sometimes it can get confusing!