Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes, 48 pp, RL 1.5
There is something magical about a really good beginning reader book. Maybe it is my decades long love for and appreciation of the Zen-like simplicity of Frog and Toad, or possibly the dynamic of the opposites who often make up the main characters of a beginning reader that account for this love. Or maybe it's the fact that writing a beginning reader is a bit like writing poetry - there is an economy in every word, and every word is chosen to invite emerging readers to take their first independent steps into the wonderful world of books. With her new series, Charlie & Mouse, award winning author of picture books, non-fiction books and middle grade novels, (including the unforgettable Orphan Island) Laurel Snyder has created two unforgettable characters, brought to life on the page by the marvelous Emily Hughes (Everything You Need for a Treehouse).
Their story begins in the morning, with Charlie poking the lump that is beside him. That lump is little sibling Mouse, who uses the masculine pronoun but also wears a tutu. From there, the two go to wake up mom and dad and the family is introduced.
The first of the three stories in the book finds Charlie and Mouse excited because it is the day of the neighborhood party. Taking cookies to share, they head toward the park where the party will take place, picking up neighbor friends along the way. When they reach the park, no one is there! Far from disappointed, the story ends with a view of a fantastic - and empty - play structure and the line, "It was the best party ever."
This kind of plainspoken humor and sensibility is carried throughout every story. In the second story, the siblings try to sell rocks from their front yard to earn ice cream money. Unable to sell any rocks, they do end up earning money when neighbors ask them to remove rocks from their front yards. Much to mom's dismay, the pair return home with sticky faces and additional (unwanted) rocks for the front yard! The final story, "Bedtime Banana," is subtly hilarious, with child-logic on display. After being read a story and told it is time for bed, Charlie and Mouse ask for their "bedtime banana." Charlie and Mouse convince mom that a "bedtime banana" is in fact a thing and she delivers. After eating their banana and brushing their teeth again, the pair get the idea to ask for a "bedtime Popsicle," the next night.
The stories and illustrations make it clear that Charlie and Mouse live in a world filled with love, imagination and creativity. Hughes's illustrations evoke another era, before screens and devices were omnipresent. Unlike eras of the past, diversity is present throughout these books, from the sibling's white and Asian parents, to the neighbor kids to the interracial gay couple down the street. Yet another remarkable thing about this superb new series!
Don't miss the marvelous Book 2,
Coming April, 2019!
Source: Library Bound copies
purchased for my school library with district funds