BooksForKidsBlog

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Have It Your Way! See the Cat: Three Stories About A Dog by David Rochelle

Back in the age of poor Dick and Jane and Alice and Jerry, if the author of their primer readers wanted them to "see Spot" or "see Jip," they had no choice. And the illustrators of their first reader series cooperated with the authors. If they wanted readers to see Spot or Jip, well, by George, there he was on the facing page. Now in these days of bossy metafiction characters, they think they run the show!

CHAPTER ONE: SEE THE CAT!

I AM NOT A CAT. I AM A DOG!

No matter how determined the author of this "see and say" primer is at describing the putative cat, the actual character maintains that he is a dog. However, although the book's narrator maintains that he is a blue cat in a green dress with the silly name of Baby Cakes, riding on the back of a pink unicorn, he maintains his dogdom.

I AM MAX, A DOG!

Surprisingly, a pink unicorn with a blue cat gallops across the putative page. Now Max's face is red with embarrassment. It gets worse.

CHAPTER II: SEE THE SNAKE!

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Max leaps up from his trusty rug, only to find a snake underneath, a very mad snake at that! Two can play at this metaphysical plotting. Max re-edits the text to read ...

"THE MAD SNAKE IS NOT GOING TO BITE THE DOG!"

Close call! At least that's the end of Chapter II. WHEW!

CHAPTER III: SEE THE DOG!

Having established his true species, Max is happy to stretch out on his rug and rest when the narrator announces . . .

"SEE THE DOG RUN AND JUMP AND . . . FLY! OR A HIPPO WILL SIT ON HIM!"

No can do. SHEESH! Max has had it with this illogical and abhorrent authorhood! He's leaving this book now! And if he does. . .

NOBODY WILL READ IT!

Aha! That hits the publisher where it hurts--the pocketbook! Stop the presses!

Author David Rochelle's clever spoof of the introductory "Dick and Jane" readers from the 1940s, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog (Candlewick Press, 2020, 2021), abetted by illustrator Mike Wohnoutka, (winner of the American Library Association's prestigious Theodor Seuss Giesel Award for beginning reader books) zestfully carries off this parody of those hoary first grade primers. While achieving their original goal to provide stories with controlled vocabulary and with drawings reminiscent of Dr. Seuss'; Beginner Books, Rochelle and Wohnoutka support the text for the beginning reader just as their predecessors intended to do.

Writes Kirkus Reviews,"Sardonic cartoon drawings and the play on words cleverly elevate the repetitive, Dick-and-Jane pattern to include humor and suspense. Children, who are frequently subject to the control of others, will delight in seeing Max mirror their emotions and turn the tables. Kids will cheer for the affronted Max in this well-crafted early reader with surprising outcomes."

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