Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annie and Snowball and the Teacup Club

by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson. Simon & Schuster, 2008. (View and excerpt by clicking the link on the publisher's name). I've loved Cynthia Rylant's beginning readers ever since my oldest son was learning to read with Henry and Mudge back in the early 90s. Annie is Henry's cousin and best friend, and Snowball is her pet rabbit. Annie loves dainty, frilly things. She loves her teacup collection and she wants to find some friends who will enjoy it with her. As much as she loves Henry and Mudge, his 200 pound dog, she knows that they are more interested in messy, drooly things. She knows she can have fun with them but also wants to have fun at a dainty tea party.

When she tells Henry she wants to find some"teacup friends" he suggests she start a club. Great idea! They make a sign and have seven teacup girls call up to join the club. My favorite part of the story is that Annie's dad is the one who helps her arrange the party and make the sugar cookies. No mention of her mother so I think he's a single father. At the party "Annie was proud that her dad was such a good mother, too." So although the book appears to follow gender roles with girls in dresses and shiny shoes loving pink and boys loving drool and mess, her father is a role model for an adult that can do either. Nice balance!

The story is interesting and the vocabulary is just varied enough, with some repetition for readers still needing sure footing on familiar words. The pacing is just right with an interesting problem for kindergarten and first grade social development and a satisfying resolution. I think my boys will like this book as much as the girls in their kindergarten and preschool classes.

Annie and Snowball and the Teacup Club is on the Cybils nomination list for Easy Readers. It's a Level 2 book (Reading Independently) in Simon & Schuster's Ready -To- Read series.

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