Houndsley and Catina by James Howe, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay, 36pp RL1

Buddy books seem to be the staple genre of beginning readers. Along with Frog and Toad and George and Martha, Houndsley and Catina can be added to the list of stand-outs in their field. Above all else, these stand-out friends show kindness and consideration for each other, especially at times of conflict.

The three books in the series are written by James Howe, of Bunnicula series fame, and have detailed, cozy watercolor illustrations by Marie-Louise Gay, author and illustrator of the Stella and Sam books as well as the chapter book, Travels With My Family that match the gentle tone of Howe's writing. Houndsley is a dog with a soft-as-a-rose-petal voice who enjoys cooking, but learns that he neither wants or needs to be the best cook. Catina is a thoughtful, enthusiastic cat who thinks she wants to be a writer but learns that writing does not make her happy.

Each book has three chapters, as opposed to the Frog & Toad and George & Martha books which are separated into stories. For siblings of older independent readers, this might make all the difference. Some kids who see their older sibling reading a chapter book will accept nothing less. Hopefully, this will fit the bill and take up a some time during that difficult learning year or so between being an emerging reader and an independent reader.

The other books, Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise, available in paperback and Houndlsey and Catina and the Quiet Time, available in hardcover, are
equally enchanting and make for good story time reading as well for the three and four year old crowd as well.

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