Thursday, October 19, 2017

Imagine That!

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat. Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: 1954 was a great year to be a kid. There were five-cent doughnuts and one-cent lollipops. Rock and roll had just hit the record shops. Bookstores brimmed with exciting new books, like Charlotte's Web, The Lord of the Rings, and Horton Hears a Who! 1954 was a great year to be a kid, unless you were trying to learn how to read.

Premise/plot: Imagine That tells the dual story of how Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat and the Hat (and Green Eggs and Ham) and  also how beginning readers got their start in the publishing world. The problem facing teachers--and parents--in 1954 was this: School readers were too boring--nobody wanted to read them. Therefore kids were struggling to transition from reading a few words to reading whole books. Dr Seuss was given a list of 236 words to use to write this new book, this beginning reader. Was he up to the challenge?
My thoughts: It is hard for me to imagine a world without beginning readers. I think my favorite thing about this one was that it showed the creative writing process.
Ted pondered how kids learned to read. He had a hunch that easy rhymes and funny drawings would help them guess the words they didn't know. He used tricks to coax readers to turn the pages. For example, he put the word BUMP in huge letters at the top-right edge of page five. What made that BUMP sound? Kids had to turn the page to find out. 
I enjoyed the illustrations. I loved the blend of new illustrations showing Dr. Seuss hard at work but also highlighting Seuss' classic illustrations.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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