Wednesday, September 7, 2016

GUEST POST: Spot the Cat by

I was so excited when Erin from contacted me to do a blog collaboration, because I think her blog and her backstory are so awesome. If you haven't checked her out, do it... right after you read this review!

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ABOUT THE BOOK  Spot, the Cat

Author/Illustrator: Henry Cole
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 2016
Ages: 3 – 8 Rating:  ***Starred Review*** 5 out of 5 Stars!

From the Publisher:
“Simple and stunning images tell the story of a cat named Spot as he weaves his way in and out of a city in this wordless picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Henry Cole.
Through this gorgeous visual narrative, Henry Cole shows us a day in the life of a cat named Spot. Spot sneaks away from home by way of an open window to go on a wordless journey through the city. Follow Spot as he weaves through busy city streets, visits a farmers market, wanders into a park full of kite-flyers, and beyond. But while Spot is out on his adventure, his beloved boy owner is looking for him—seeming to just miss him every time. When all seems almost lost, Spot’s story reminds us that there’s always a way back home.
With stunningly detailed black-and-white illustrations, readers will love following Spot on his adventure—along the way finding characters and objects that appear, disappear, and reappear—and cheering for the sweet reunion at the end.”

I was exceedingly grateful that the author gave Spot a distinctive beauty mark on his flank to distinguish him from the many other potential lookalikes that were placed on each page to throw us off the scent of the wandering cat.  The great loss that the cat's (Spot) young owner feels when Spot goes for a wander is effectively depicted as the young boy searches the town for the beloved cat and puts up "lost" posters.  The delight on the boy's face is palpable at the end of a fruitless afternoon of searching when Spot creeps back and wants in the window.  We celebrate the reunion with him.  Searching for Spot on the delightfully detailed two-page spreads depicting village in this wordless picture book is entrancing.  Each spread is like a whole word unto itself.  There are street scenes, the riverside, a park, the front of a grand museum, a train station, etc. Point of view and perspective are explored and played with.  The whole book is a grand adventure from start to finish.  There are so many details that you can revisit each page a thousand times and notice something that you have not seen before, making this a wonderful story to return to again and again.

My Experience:
My three year old found this book to be magical.  She loved finding Spot on each page, but also discovering the many other animals that looked like Spot who were placed there to be distractions and decoys.  She didn't notice until our fourth reading that there were no words, which I found to be fascinating.  She even declared that there did not need to be any.  I agree completely.  Every two-page spread is its own world.  We spent 45 minutes on one spread alone (the train station) just looking at and commenting on all the different people.  We talked about where each may have been coming from or going to and making up stories about them.  What a wonderful time of using our imaginations! We have returned to this book over and over and over, and though she delights in finding Spot in each scene and loves the reunion of owner and pet, my daughter also just loves looking at all the people and their activities in this town.  It is a wonderful way to discuss the jobs and activities of people in a city/town/village.  Certain scenes reminded me of the outside of and steps of The Metropolitan Museum, Grand Central Station and Central Park in NYC and bridges and riverbanks in France, etc.  The farmers market could exist in any town, as could the street scenes.  It is wonderful!  I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

    incredibly detailed and beautiful pen and ink illustrations
    fun for parents and children to explore together
    illustrations are so detailed that each time you look at the book there is something new to discover and discuss
    wordless book allows you to create your own story and side stories

Why/How Use it with kids:
    read other spot the "xxx" books like "Where's Waldo" and "Find Curious George", etc. to practice looking for details.  There are many such books at many levels for different ages and abilities.
    have your child create their own "spot the xxx" book.  This would greatly work on artistic and design details.
    practice pen and ink drawings (black and white)
    learning about and discussing life in towns/villages/cities from the detailed drawings
    use your imagination to create stories about what some of the people in the town are doing (careers, life in a city, etc.)

About the Author/Illustrator:
Henry Cole has written and illustrated more than fifty books for children, including Big BugAnd Tango Makes ThreeOink?, and Little Bo in France. A former elementary school teacher, he now writes and paints full time.

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About Erin:
Wife. Adoptive mom to toddler twins and a 3 yo. Career as a Teacher-Librarian temporarily on pause. Reads tons of books to the kids. Longs for two minutes alone in the bathroom. Lives for sloppy kisses. Figuring out life on the fly with laughs, friends, and grace!
     I am a “mature” mom – jumped into this in my very late 30s and am now starting to explore my 40s ;-). My hubby is 7 years older, and we joke that our poor kids will have to keep explaining the two old grey-haired fogies at their graduations to all their classmates. Ah well, just think how wise we’ll be by then!

Book Reviews: As a Teacher-Librarian and AVID reader, one of my main filters for
understanding the world is through books (in all formats).  At this stage, I use a lot of books to help my kids explore and understand the world, too.  I want to share what I’ve learned with you. As a former Senior Education Specialist, I have led resource review and selection for a major urban school board, was seconded to a provincial Department of Education as a Manager for Literacy, Numeracy & School Libraries, and have my Master’s degree in Information Literacy and Adult Education.  I’ve been a teacher for 18 years, a Teacher-Librarian for 14 years and am passionate about sharing my knowledge. I am a Director on the board of and do professional reviews for a children’s book review journal: Resource Links.
     Join me on the journey as I explore being a “mature” mom to multiples, toddlers, and adopted children through the lens of children’s books.  I’m learning a lot – the tables are turned on this teacher!

Follow Erin on her blog:
Twitter: @RaisingMom3

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