Man the Boats! Mr. Putter and Tabby Clear the Decks by Cynthia Rylant
IT WAS SUMMER, AND MR. PUTTER AND HIS FINE CAT TABBY WERE ITCHY. THEY WERE NOT ITCHY BECAUSE OF FLEAS. THEY WERE ITCHY BECAUSE THEY WERE BORED.
THEY NEEDED SOME ADVENTURE. AND MR. PUTTER ALWAYS KNEW WHERE ADVENTURE WAS.
IT WAS NEXT DOOR.
Mr. Putter and Tabby don't mind being old; they actually like their staid routine of morning tea and afternoon naps in the shade. But they are out of orangesicles, and both of them have a case of the late summer blahs. But when these senior citizens need novelty, Mr. Putter always seems to find it with his neighbor Mrs. Teaberry and her good dog Zeke. That pair definitely understands that variety is the spice of life.
THEY TOOK ADVENTUROUS CLASSES, LIKE DIVING.
THEY ATE ADVENTUROUS FOOD, LIKE SQUID.
This time Mrs. Teaberry intuits that her friends need a radical change of scene and a breath of fresh air. It's down to the sea in ships for the four of them for a sightseeing voyage on the (appropriately-named) two-master The Olden Days, And the day trip is just what the doctor ordered.
THE WIND BLEW IN THEIR FACES.
THEY FELT FREE.
"FREE ORANGESICLES!" CALLED THE CAPTAIN.
But when it's time to disembark, Zeke refuses to follow. He clamps his bulldog jaws around the main-mast and won't budge. Mrs. Teaberry is flummoxed.
But the Captain has more up his sleeve than orangesicles. He pulls a dog toy from his pocket--a toy boat! Zeke accepts the deal and relinquishes his grip on the mast.
Back home the adventurers savor the memories of their adventure in their own ways. Mr. Putter and Tabby dream in the hammock; Mrs. Teaberry meditates in a bubble bath. And Zeke?
Zeke takes his beloved boat for a sail in his water dish.
Cynthia Rylant's nineteenth entry in her beginning reader Mr. Putter and Tabby series, the soon-to-be published Mr. Putter & Tabby Clear the Decks (Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin, 2010), is rich with her cozy, droll humor wedded to the indispensable comic illustrations of Arthur Howard (see his hilarious Bubba and Beau books). Rylant's vividly-drawn, young-at-heart characters, with all their joie de vivre intact, are still going strong.
For more of multiple-award-winning Rylant's beginning reader books, don't forget her other notable series, the Henry and Mudge books and the spinoff stories of Henry's cousin Annie in her Annie and Snowball series.