Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His Alphabet the Hard Way by Patrick McDonnell

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His Alphabet the Hard Way by Patrick McDonnell. unpgd. Little Brown Books for Young Readers/ Little, Brown and Company, September, 2017. 9780316502467. (Review of purchased finished copy)

I try to keep up. I really do. I get four review journals. I try to read most of the reviews. But I don't always get through them in a timely fashion so I rely on other online sources to keep me up-to-date. I have a lot of author "friends" on Facebook and have learned of new titles that way. I have a couple hundred blogs in an RSS feed and learn about books that way as well. Thankfully, that's how I found out about this wordless gem of an alphabet book. 

Wordless alphabet book? Why yes! Who'd have thunk? Don't skip the initial pages folks. While the end-pages are decorated with letters of the alphabet, there is a page with a bit of spot art before the title page. The story really starts there and continues on the Title page. The little red cat in question has awakened and spied an open door. It isn't long before it runs into an alligator! Next up comes a bear, then a chicken. All three are chasing the little red cat until they all stop dead upon encountering a dragon! This causes a rather hysterical reaction on the part of the chicken!

Cartoonists are masters of simple lines conveying lots of meaning. Take your time to read the pictures as this is cartoon gold. I adored it when I read it and happily reread it several times. But the proof of a picture book hit is sharing it as a read aloud. I shared it with a small group this morning and the audience loved the group reading. They were fully engaged throughout and laughed out loud frequently. We even did a little predicting. 

I will be adding it to a wordless unit the ELL teacher and I do every few years. We are due to introduce it this January. It will do double duty both by reinforcing the English alphabet and allowing ELL learners to tell their own story.

Don't miss this Vimeo between Victoria Stapleton and Patrick McDonnell discussing the story and art. And run, don't walk to pick up a copy to read aloud, to give as gifts, to recommend to your favorite readers. Remember, one is never too old for picture books!

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