Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Max Spaniel series by David Catrow

I'm currently weeding the picture book section in the library - for you non-librarians, that means that I am making the critical and heart-breaking decisions of what books to remove from the library - and I'm having a blast getting to know the collection better. It's quite enlightening. Especially since children's books on my radar are either novels or picture books. That's all there is, right? Silly me, of course not. In between these two categories is a vast collection of early readers and first chapter books, from the I Can Read! series to Dr. Seuss to Dick and Jane. I don't have fond memories of these types of books - mostly because they're for emerging readers, with simple and repetitive language, and I was a reader at a very young age. But I am happy to say that authors do realize there is an audience for these books, and they are producing work that is just as engaging in content, text, and illustrations as those picture books that we get kids to love. One fine example of this is David Catrow's new Max Spaniel series. No need to See Spot Run anymore!

Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt by David Catrow
published August 2009 by Scholastic

Max Spaniel is not a dog. In this book, he is a hunter. Of dinosaurs. He traipses around the yard, collecting evidence that will help him create a dinosaur fossil. A bottlecap as an eye, a football for a head, a rake for teeth, a toy fire truck for a knee, etc. With no more than a sentence or two per page, Max will completely captivate young audiences. The illustrations are lush and vibrant - the kind that make kids drool (or is that just me?). I love all the little details Catrow fits on a page - an olive on a toothpick piercing a sandwich on a plate, a lazy cat observing in the background, Popsi and Cola bottlecaps, and a night sky filled with sparkling dots of stars. The illustrations alone will sell this book to kids, but that's not all - Max is such a character. Full of life and curiosity, he will definitely pique kids' imaginations and interests. He's got my attention!

published May 2010 by Scholastic
review copy provided by publisher

Max is back, but this time as a chef, family legacy and all. He partners with the fat cat we saw lurking in the shadows in Dinosaur Hunt to make the special of the day at Max's Restaurant- pizza! But it seems that no one wants to try the special. Instead, a dog asks for chili (and gets a scarf) and another customer who asks for a hot dog gets quite literally just that. Finally, a take-out order comes in for 100 pizzas - Max has a lot of work to do! 

If at all possible, I liked this Max book better than the first. I giggled at the silliness and the subtle additions of adult humor - the Gray Spaniel Bus Line and a leaning tower of pizzas. :) Love love love the illustrations again. Glossy watercolor prints make my heart flutter. My favorite page is: "A tummy growls. I growl back." where Max bares his teeth at the customers while flipping a burger, including the cheese, lettuce, tomato, bun, olive, and pickle. The illustrations have that I Spy feel that kids absolutely adore. The one thing I noticed that was different from the first book is the slightly longer text and use of dialogue, but it's still very much an easy reader. Check out the book trailer for more of Max!



Peaceful Reader said...

I love Max Spaniel as much as my students. I agree-there are so many great choices for reluctant readers now. The Fly Guy series is another example of how fun an easy reader can be. Thanks for highlighting this series.

NatalieSap said...

Ah yes - I can hardly keep the Fly Guy books on the shelves!

Jennifer said...

Argh, how come I didn't know there was a new Max Spaniel book? Now we will have to wait for my next order in June! I keep thinking I should work on the easy reader section again...seems every time I take my eye off it it suddenly retreats ten years into the past.

Jodie said...

I would so buy my dog a hat like that if I had a dog. Bless, you can never have too many good dog books.

Post a Comment

Copyright 2009 This Purple Crayon. Powered by Blogger
Blogger Templates created by Deluxe Templates
Wordpress by Wpthemesfree