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With characters as memorable as those in Hills's Duck and Goose series, this good-natured story shows readers how Rocket, a spotted puppy, becomes a beginning reader, thanks to a little yellow bird. Hills uses expressive oil and colored pencil spot art (and a subtle sense of humor) to engage readers as Rocket becomes the bird's pupil; the enthusiastic teacher wisely hooks Rocket on stories before interesting him in "the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet.... Where it all begins." The illustrations emphasize Rocket's responsiveness and wide-eyed curiosity as he learns letters (the bird holds up a worm while pointing to W) and progresses from there. "Together they sang out the sounds that each letter makes and spelled the sounds they heard around them." If the details of Rocket's transition can be nebulous ("Soon they were spelling words") Hills still emphasizes the need for practice ("Rocket thought about the bird's sweet chirp while he sounded out words like D-I-G and W-I-N-D and C-O-L-D"). The amiable characters and gentle text-as well as an alphabet banner the bird strings up-make this a decent primer for humans, too. Ages 3-7. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Who says you can't teach a young dog new words? Looking a bit like Gene Zion's lovable Harry, Rocket is minding his own business one fall morning when a little yellow bird gets him hooked on a story she is reading aloud. She proceeds to give him leisurely lessons in the alphabet before flying away for the winter. He practices all season long, spelling out words in the snow and in the mud. Hills, best known for his Duck and Goose series, offers up an appealing picture of the learning-to-read process: the bird is an enthusiastic instructor, teaching Rocket to love the sounds and meanings of words. Hills' oil-paint and colored-pencil illustrations nicely capture both the sweetness of pupil and tutor and the prettiness of the changing seasons. When the little yellow bird returns at last, the two of them settle down to read books together, and it's clear that a wonderful adventure has begun for Rocket.--Nolan, Abby Copyright 2010 Booklist