Rectangle Time by Pamela Paul; illustrated by Becky Cameron. 2021. Published by Philomel Books.
Brief summary: A thoughtful cat enjoys rectangle time with his boy and father and helps in any way he can to make it superb. He always sits in someone’s lap and scratches his face on the rectangle. Soon, he notices that there are two voices at rectangle time and decides to add his. As time goes by, he hears that rectangle time is now silent and only with the boy. The cat decides he will break the quietness.
Years pass. The cat sees how rectangle time is now with two again, but they are sitting in silence at opposite sides of the room. The cat pokes the boy to let him know he is still contributing with this special ritual. The cat believes it is an accident when the boy removes his helpful paw.
More time passes and the cat concludes the boy is not enjoying his rectangle time by himself on his bed, so the supportive cat sits on the rectangle. He gets dumped on the floor and realizes it was not an accident. The caring cat decides to re-position himself. Will this persistent feline ever find the right way again to share rectangle time?
Comments: Whenever we have story time in elementary school, we call it “circle time” when the children would gather around in sort of a circle and listen/participate with a read aloud. “Rectangle time” is such a cute name showing that story time is through the cat’s perspective and how it changes over the years as the boy grows older.
Definitely a good choice for library media specialists and teachers to share.
The Bookstore Catby Cylin Busby; illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2020. Adobe Photoshop. Published by Balzer & Bray.
Brief summary: This adorable bookstore’s ginger cat is described using various adjectives about his life in a bookstore. Young readers will have fun learning about this cute cat’s story.
Comments: This book could be used in so many ways. First, as a book to be read for entertainment. Second, a great book to use for teaching adjectives for an English language lesson
Third, this may be a good book to use in music class too. There is a note from Cylin Busby on the front pages explaining that this story was inspired by a Victorian parlor game that she played with her family as a child. Players sit in a circle clap a rhythm while taking turns finishing the sentence. “The minster’s cat is an (adjective) cat.” The next person has to say an adjective describing the cat with the next letter of the alphabet.
Bodega Catby Louie Chin; illustrated by Louie Chin. 2019. Published by POW!
Brief summary: Chip, the bodega’s ginger cat, explains what it is like to be the boss of a bodega that stays open 24/7. All of the Matos family members help run the little corner grocery store by stocking and displaying the merchandise that the neighborhood would like to buy. Chip explains the day-to-day routine of the shop.
Chip also tells about Ja-Young, who is the cat boss of the bodega across the street which has different merchandise. The two cats and families eat together.
Comments: I learned that bodega is Spanish for grocery store. This story reminded me of a bodega in our country neighborhood that we called the Little Store. It also had a mixture of goods unique to the neighborhood such as live bait, freshly butchered livestock, and local bake goods. It had the only gas for miles too.
I recommend this book for teachers to use during their commerce unit. Other units: Wants and Needs. People in the community. Careers.
Brief summary: A cat ran out the door of a house and encounters an alligator. The alligator joins the cat to meet a bear. The cat, alligator and the bear come across a chicken. The chicken joins the trio and soon there is a dragon. The story continues with the five of them. The adventurous story is wordless with only the capital letter and small letter of the alphabet on the page along with something that begins with the letter. Aa Bb Cc
Comments: Story without words. There is a list in the back of all of the letters and corresponding words. I like that this ABC book is different by not telling the reader what the letter is about on the page. Surprise: It may not be a noun.
Sidenote: I was thrown by the ‘s of ABC’s when I first saw the title of the book. ABCs was taught to me as being plural. I did some research online and found that sometimes ‘s is used to mean a plural to avoid confusion.
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman; illustrated by Deborah Freedman. 2017. Pencil, watercolor, colored pencil, pan pastel “with an assist Photoshop”. Published by Antheneum Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Readers are told through words and illustrations how the different parts of the house use to be part of Earth. “The door was once a colossal oak tree…”
Comments: This will help students to think how things are made back to the simplest form to its present form. I could see using this book in the kindergarten curriculum for the “how things are made” unit. I often wondered as a child of how things were made but did not ask. I would have appreciated a book like this one. Each child will go home looking at his/her house in a new way perhaps wondering how other things are made; what it was originally in nature or man-made. This book is the stepping stone to other wonderment around us.
Although this book is soft and quiet with its gentle colors of watercolors and few words floating from one page to the next, I believe it is a profound book that makes the reader consider the origins of things. This may be one of those first books that sparks the fire of curiosity to learn more about other origins of things in our daily lives. How is the car made? Where did the tire come from? How were they made? What about the food I’m eating? How was this bread made? Wait a second, how was I made?
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 2016. Colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, #2 pencils, iBook.
Brief summary: A house cat walks through his world and is seen differently by each being. Sometimes the cat is a large monster; sometimes the cat is a small creature. It also can be different colors and shapes.
Comments: This book demonstrates different visual interpretations of the same object which can differ from one another depending upon one’s own attitude towards it or the fact that an eye can only see certain colors and shapes. I would use this in an art class for different visual perspectives and in a reading unit when discussing points of view. I recommend this as a Caldecott contender.
Brief Summary: Spot, the cat, sees a bird outside an opened window and decides to climb down the vines to get it. The reader follows Spot on his little outing looking for Spot in each page turn. The little boy looks for his cat. They both end up home again.
Comment: Fun, detailed art had me looking for Spot on each page. The story is very simple as Spot wanders through the city and back to his home as his little owner looks for him. Stories without Words. One lesson I would use this book and other “stories without words” books would be during the beginning of the first trimester with kindergartners and first graders to show how we can tell stories by just looking at pictures. Put the students in twos to look at a book together and then start from the beginning to retell it to one another.