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Chick and Chickie: A Toon Book by Claude Ponti, RL 1

TOON Books has done it again, maybe even giving Elephant and Piggie a bit of (much needed) competition. I mean, there is room for two more slightly subversive buddies in the world of emerging reader books, right? Chick & Chickie: Play All Day introduces us to the French author and illustrator of over sixty children's books Claude Ponti. As much as I love Mo Willems and what he has done for the world of picture books and beginning readers, especially, Elephant and Piggie, I think it is possible to create a book at an even simpler reading level that is still smart and entertaining to kids and adults, and that is exactly what Ponti has done with Chick & Chickie: Play All Day.
The story begins on the cover where Chick and Chickie are deciding what to play. Chick says, "Let's make masks," and Chickie agrees. After making the masks, they proceed to scare each other and have a laugh about it. Observant eyes will notice Chick and Chickie's masks trembling and sweating as they face each other while Chick and Chickie swap compliment on their mask making skills.

 Next the two decide to play school and haul out an enormous, squishy looking, inflatable letter A. The two torment the letter, just a bit, tickling it, throwing it, scaring it with a giant pin, all the while the A exclaimimg, "AAAAH!" and "HAHAHAHA" and "AAAAAAAaaaaaaaa." However, Chick and Chickie are nice to the A as well. As they end their play time (and the A runs away) the two decide they had fun and will look for B to play with tomorrow...

The language in Chick & Chickie: Play All Day is genuinely simple, somewhere between the über-basic BOB Books and the kind of frustrating Biscuit beginning reader books. If you want to give an emerging reader a treat - a book they might actually be able to read and enjoy - definitely put Chick & Chickie: Play All Day at the top of your list.

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