Baby Cakes Before Breakfast

h1 August 18th, 2020 by jules

(Click to enlarge spread)


Here’s a post in honor of an upcoming begining reader that makes me laugh — David LaRochelle’s See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog (Candlewick), illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. Coming to shelves in September, it’s an entertaining set of stories for new readers.

Max the dog is on the verge of an identity crisis. And that’s because the book’s first story, where we see Max sitting on a small rug, reads: “See the cat.” Max responds with pride: “I am not a cat. I am a dog.” With each page turn, details are added. We are to see the blue cat. We are to see the blue cat in a green dress. And more. Max gets worked up, especially when the cat’s name is revealed, which I won’t spoil for you. (Well, okay. It may be in the title of this post.) Max wants you to know his name is Max, and his fury builds until finally he is yelling at the text. But the next three spreads reveal an unexpected surprise, the kind that will have readers laughing out loud. (Well, okay. Hint: It is one of the spreads below.)

As you can see, this is a book that breaks the fourth wall in an old school, Dick-and-Jane kind of way. (I mean, technically this is breaking the fourth wall in that sentences such as “See the cat” have “you” as the understood subject.) The book also has all the things a beginning reader needs to succeed, including words an emerging reader can decode (displayed in an accessible font); shorter sentences (the dialogue here is in speech bubbles); and brief, engaging chapters. As Sylvia Shaffer wrote last year at the Horn Book: “Easy readers aren’t watered down — they’re distilled; each story’s tension and humor in perfect balance and clear on the page in easy-to-consume, bite-sized sentences.”

The book’s last two stories are just as funny as the first. Expect giggles at the launch of the second story: It kicks off with “See the snake,” Max muttering, “Here we go again.” Here, he must grab a pencil and make metalinguistic changes to the story to save his own life. And in the final story, Max makes it abundantly clear he’s aware of the reader.

Here are some more spreads so that you can see the book in action, including Wohnoutka’s expressive artwork.


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(Click cover to enlarge)


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SEE THE CAT: THREE STORIES ABOUT A DOG. Text copyright © 2020 by David LaRochelle. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Mike Wohnoutka and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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