Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Good Easy Reader Is Hard To Find

I have "known" Melissa Wiley of Here in the Bonny Glen for years. She's written five books, three of which came out this year. Fox and Crow Are Not Friends is the first that I've read.

This clever Step into Reading book uses three tidy chapters to show Fox and Crow interacting in nonfriendly ways. At the same time, the book is a complete story with a climax and surprise reveal. The images don't just illustrate text but really do carry part of the storyline. The reveal makes sense in terms of the illustration. At the end of the story, we suddenly ask ourselves, Ah, yes. Where did the cheese come from?

And this little volume is full of literary references, starting with its title. Fox and Crow Are Not Friends calls to mind Frog and Toad Are Friends the first of the Frog and Toad  I Can Read books by Arnold Lobel. I once saw this series referred to as the best I Can Read books ever written. The chapter title A Good Smell Is Hard to Find has to make adult readers think of Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find, a short story I've never understood. Another chapter title, Revenge Is a Dish Best Served with Cheese is a play on "revenge is a dish best served cold," which is not a Klingon proverb, people! And the reveal at the end, which I don't want to give away--did it not make anyone else think of the Berenstain Bears?

I hope we'll see more Fox and Crow books in the future.

Fox and Crow Are Not Friends is a Cybils nominee in the Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books category.

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