When I heard Mo Willems had a new series, it went on the order list automatically. I took a quick look when it came in...and was immediately charmed. A simple question and answer dialogue, with a strong rhythmic feel, marches through bold cartoon illustrations. With only a handful of words and lines, Willems creates a story that's full of child appeal, will tickle grownups' funnybones, and appeals to early readers. Quite a feat!
The main question about the Cat the Cat series is where to locate them in your library. They were nominated in the picturebook category for Cybils, and I've seen several libraries place them in that area.
I've read them aloud in storytime; I purchased a second copy of Cat the Cat for my backup toddler storytime. It's a perfect toddler storytime read, short, interactive, with nice bold pictures a large group can see. I've also read Time to Sleep Sheep the Sheep! aloud to a preschool audience and it takes this slightly older age to fully appreciate the humor at the end - and older kids think the repetitive names are hilarious. Giraffe the Giraffe anyone?
Then again, these books are perfectly suited for beginning readers, or "pre-readers" if you want to think of it that way; kids who are just starting to put letters together into words. The bold type and repeated simple words are perfect for this group. Most of the publicity and reviews categorize these as beginning or easy readers as well.
In my library, we ended up putting these into easy readers. They've been circulating briskly, but they're still on the new shelf so it will be a while until we know how they circulate when they're on the easy reader shelf.
Verdict: A must for your easy reader or picture book area. Hey, why not buy two copies and put them in both places?
Cat the Cat Who is that?
ISBN: 9780061728402; Published February 2010 by Balzer + Bray; Borrowed from the library
Time to sleep Sheep the Sheep!
ISBN: 9780061728471; Published June 2010 by Balzer + Bray; Borrowed from the library