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Three by the Sea (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3) Paperback – May 1, 1994
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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Sam is the next to tell a story, but Lolly says his story must contain a cat and a rat. Sam's story starts with a reversal of expectations: a rat buys a cat for a pet. Everything about the story is suspenseful: in almost every frame, it appears that the cat is going to eat the rat. As it turns out, though, the cat has a secret favorite food that turns out to not be "rat." A clever, funny, suspenseful tale.
Finally, Spider gets his turn to tell a story. He incorporates the rat and the cat, but they are mere scenery: his tale concerns a monster who creeps along the seashore, looking for children to eat.
Superbly clever and well-written, and the book indirectly teaches children about stories, plot, conflict, and suspense. A Must Read!
The first story, Lolly's, is a dead-on parody of an old-style phonics reader:
'The cat sat by the rat. "I see him," said the cat. "I see the rat."
The rat saw the cat. "I see him," said the rat. "I see the cat." And that was that.'
Spider and Sam naturally hate this story, and they work to top each other with much more entertaining stories, always about cats and rats. This is one of my favorite kids' books, by one of my favorite kids' author/illustrators, the late, great James Marshall.
I think it's an overlooked classic -- even better than some of Marshall's more popular works (such as the "George and Martha" series), and right up there with his other masterpieces: "Miss Nelson Comes Back" (written with Harry Allard) and "Fox and His Friends". All three feature very funny and surprising twist endings.
If you find you like this book as much as I do, you'll want to check out its two sequels: "Four by the Shore" and "Three Up a Tree". Those are also highly enjoyable, but this one is the creme de la creme.
Parents: This is a book they will love, although you may love it more. School librarians: BUY THIS BOOK! Publisher: Please restore this to print in a library-binding edition!