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See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog Hardcover – Illustrated, September 8, 2020
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Frequently bought together
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
With short, simple words and a keen sense of comedic timing, LaRochelle sets up this battle of wits but leaves space for Wohnoutka to work his magic. The expressive gouache illustrations bring the characters to life, deliver much of the book’s humor, and create a blissfully happy ending for Max. Using the predictability of traditional “easy reader” books as a springboard to laugh-out-loud moments, this book is a rewarding choice for kids tackling the not-so-easy task of learning to read.
—Booklist (starred review)
The sharp humor and expressive, highly distilled gouache cartooning offer opportunities for lots of giggles, but the real joy of this stand-out beginning reader comes from watching a genuine underdog speak his truth.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Cartoon-style illustrations expertly support a text with repetition and simple sentences. As Max progresses from confused to canny to competent, children will find a reflection of their own reading journey as well as amusement at the metafictive aspect of a dog wrestling with a book...This humorous, self-referential, fourth wall–demolishing easy reader features a dog who seems to be at the mercy of the storyteller—or is he?
—SLJ (starred review)
Short sentences carry a steady rhythm, with word repetition scaffolding language acquisition and offering clever callbacks. Gouache illustrations in subdued hues enliven and support the narrative. This entertaining exploration of words, images, and how they function together to tell a story will be popular with fans of Mo Willems.
—The Horn Book
Using common sight words, LaRochelle constructs a highly amusing story about a dog that’s mistaken for a cat. It gets even wackier when a unicorn shows up.
About the Author
Mike Wohnoutka has illustrated more than twenty books for young readers, including Moo! by David LaRochelle. He is also the author and illustrator of several picture books, including Croc & Turtle. See Mike Wohnoutka in Minneapolis.
- Publisher : Candlewick; Illustrated edition (September 8, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 64 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1536204277
- ISBN-13 : 978-1536204278
- Reading age : 4 - 8 years
- Grade level : Preschool - 3
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 0.5 x 9.31 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #82,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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“See the cat”. Come again? As the dog in this book is quick to assure you, “I am not a cat. I am a dog.” So begins the first of three tiny stories that show a push-and-pull kind of relationship between a dog and the narration that accompanies him. One minute he’s being mistaken for a cat by the name of Baby Cakes, the next he’s outwitting a snake, and then finally he’s going directly against the book’s direction to establish a kind of doggish independence. Woof.
The beginner book (sometimes called the easy book) is the rare children’s literature format with a specific job in mind. It is created, specifically, to teach children how to read. This job is so important that over the years publishers have taken pains to make these books a specific size and shape. If you see a book that is approximately nine inches tall and six and a half inches wide, that book was written with beginning readers in mind. Now I think we’re all familiar with the story of how the Dick and Jane books conquered this market, allowing Dr. Seuss to came along and blow those boring old books out of the water with his own specific brand of humor and short words. What’s a little less clear is the story after that. People started copying Dr. Seuss (though he was clever enough to rope in fellow artists like P.D. Eastman and the Berenstains to help continue his specific brand of easy reading). Then some genius figured out that if you created a kind of leveling system (a system that ranks each book in terms of text complexity) you could sell schools books that were pre-leveled for different readers. These days, easy books are an amalgamation of old and new, leveled and freewheeling. And into this fray steps See the Cat. A book that deftly incorporates the humor and simplicity of those readers that came post-Seuss
If I’m going to talk about humor then I’m essentially going to dissect it like a frog on a table, killing what makes it funny. With that in mind, lemme creep a bit around the edges of this book and try to define it that way. I think that one way See the Cat succeeds is that if a parent or kid isn’t paying much attention, this looks like all the other bland, leveled books out there. A canny individual might notice the fact that the dog on the cover is at odds with the title. I myself did not pay this detail much mind, which was a good thing. I was in the perfect position to read Story Number One which is the titular See the Cat. As the narrator continually piles on details about some cat, the dog gets increasingly upset. This, for me anyway, culminates in my favorite line in the book, “The cat’s name is Baby Cakes.” I don’t know why that line rendered me a giggly mess after I saw it. Humor is subjective. All I know is that when I see someone getting annoyed and then the person annoying them piles on a detail as brilliantly stupid as “Baby Cakes”, my heart has been won.
I mentioned just now that one reason you’d pick up this book is because of the contrast between the title and the image on the cover, but in my own case I picked it up for a very different reason. After a while, you start to trust certain authors. David LaRochelle is a recipient of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award for a very good reason. Over the years he has honed both his comic timing and the art of writing books for large groups and It’s a Tiger may be his magnum opus. It’s the ultimate interactive picture book, allowing the reader the chance to scream, “IT’S A TIGER!!” in a very loud voice with copious flailing limbs, much to the delight and mild concern of the children watching. In See the Dog he scales the funnies way down but keeps some elements, like the surprise of a page turn, or the fact that if you were to read this book out loud to a child, you could modulate your voice in such a way as to make it even funnier. I like a book that gives me, the parent, options. I like a book that gives kids even more.
Interestingly, there was never a single moment when I was reading this book that I found myself wondering what it would look like with anything other than Mike Wohnoutka’s art. Wohnoutka, like Mr. LaRochelle, is a Minnesotan and the two have collaborated before on books like Moo! and This is NOT a Cat! before. I don’t know why this one struck me as magic and the others as just swell. Maybe it’s the fact that the simple words aren’t being overwhelmed by art that distracts the eye from what it’s supposed to be doing. Easy books generally have pretty simple art. And while Mr. Wohnoutka’s books aren’t usually hyper-detailed, he’s still scaled everything back so that you get the bare minimum described by the text. Plus the man makes a nice hippo. It feels like a descendant of George and Martha, and I mean that sincerely (and no hippo could receive a highly compliment).
See the Cat isn’t going to usher in some new era of beginner books for kids, but there’s something about its combination of 4th wall bursting humor and pared down design that feels fresh. And I haven’t even discussed the fact that LaRochelle plays fair with the language, never putting down a word any longer than “embarrassed”. You can hand this to a kid learning to read, absolutely. Just be warned that their read may be punctuated with interjections of a highly voluble nature. In other words, this is laugh-out-loud funny. A welcome entry into a crowded field full of too few superstars.
For ages 4-7
Laugh with Max and all the hilarity he goes through trying to change the captions about him in this book. Three short stories, all rib-tickling, contain the adventures Max has with this book that keeps labeling him either something he isn’t, or something he really does not want to happen.
When you are ready to have a good time, just for the sake of fun, you and your child should run, not walk, to get this. This book is a hoot, and you are both in for a high time while reading it. I highly recommend this well-made, hard-backed, 5-plus star book to non-readers through nine-year-old, and all who enjoy laughing!
Candlewick Press has provided Tickmenot with a complimentary copy of, See the Cat, for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.