July 2010

The thrill of learning your ABCs

By Tad Hills
Review by
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Life is good for Rocket, the adorable spotted dog who stars in Tad Hills' new picture book, How Rocket Learned to Read. Rocket romps and plays all day, chasing leaves and chewing on sticks until it's time for a nap under his favorite tree. Little does he know that a tiny yellow bird has big plans for him—she's determined to teach Rocket how to read.

Rocket and the little bird are the most irresistible animal duo since Sylvester and Tweety. The little bird takes the role of a firm but conscientious teacher, while the dog is her playful and reluctant student. The bouncy pup at first doesn't show any interest in the bird's classroom, but she lures him by reading a story aloud. Rocket becomes enraptured by the story, and when the bird suddenly stops reading, Rocket has to know what happens next!

Soon, little Rocket is a regular in the bird’s class and an enthusiastic student, hooked by the thrill of mastering "the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet." Hills' illustrations—from close-ups of the dog's expressive face to broad two-page views of a landscape shifting from summer to winter—are beautifully interwoven with the text to create a story that will charm children and adults alike. In one scene, Rocket practices the alphabet by tracing the patterns of letters in the snow. In another, the tiny teacher is dwarfed by her canine student, who is curled around her and listening with rapt attention to her latest story.

A perfect choice for new students, reluctant readers and educators who could use a little inspiration for the year ahead, How Rocket Learned to Read is a delightful salute to the joys of reading and a touching tribute to teachers who unlock the magic of the alphabet for their students.

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How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read

By Tad Hills
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 9780375858994

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