Sunday, December 14, 2008

Review: Houndsley and Catina in the Quiet Time

By James Howe, illustrated by Marie Louise Gay. Candlewick Press, 2008. Cybils Easy Reader nominee.

I love this book. Houndsley and his best friend Catina are snowed in on the day of the big concert they've been preparing for over the last month. Catina is frantic with anxiety about the shopping and prepping they won't be able to do, but Houndsley is happy to sit and watch the snow fall. Howe's language is so poetic in spite of the limited vocabulary and concrete imagery that beginning readers require.

Houndsley gazed out the window at the silent white falling everywhere. The world had no shadows, only white on white on white.
"It is the quiet time," Houndsley said in his soft-as-rose petal voice.
Catina listened.
"It is too quiet," she said.
"Oh," said Houndsley. "But that is why this is my favorite time of year. In the quiet time, everything stops. I think we may be snowed in."
As the day goes on Houndsley manages to persuade Catina to relax and enjoy pretending they are stuck on an island. Fortunately the island has books, and board games, and a kitchen for baking cookies. Catina discovers the music of the quiet time as they sit dreaming in front of the fire. Even the neighbor, who is practicing playing the cymbals for the concert that evening, finds the joy of quiet time music.

At the end of the snowy day the whole neighborhood troops out in the snow to the park gazebo and relishes the community music.
"Without saying a word,the musicians picked up their instruments and began to play so softly that the notes fell on the listening ears like snowflakes on waiting tongues, gently, softly, there for a flicker before melting away."
Sigh. I want that kind of snowstorm. I find this book to be a gem that will hold readers of all ages in the magic. It's as sweet as a read-aloud as it is a beginning reader. You must find this and snap it up!

No comments: