Friday, September 30, 2011

Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest, illustrated by Christine Davenier

This series was suggested in a comment on my review of Jean Little's Emma series and was looking for more realistic stories about kids in easy reader format. This is a perfect addition to that small genre and Davenier's lovely washy illustrations are the perfect complement.

Iris' family is moving from the city to the country. She misses her apartment, her friends, and her neighborhood. Her parents try to cheer her up by acting silly, but only Grandpa really understands and they set off for a walk together through the vast, lonely country. As they walk Iris explains why she doesn't like the country; there are no other kids for her to play with! Grandpa encourages her to be an explorer, searching for children and together they discover a treehouse and a boy named Walter! Now Iris and Walter are friends. Iris still remembers her old life in the city, but she loves her new life and her new friend in the country too.

Christine Davenier's swirling illustrations in pen and ink, washed with color, fit with the text's exploration of moving and exploring the country, which is show in explosions of green and color with white spaces and soaring distances. Iris' loneliness in a new place is portrayed simply and her joy at finding a new friend will be something children can easily relate to.

Verdict: A lovely and well-written easy reader series. I would put it at about a level 2 or early 3, if you divide your easy readers (I just sticker mine). Some of the vocabulary is a little advanced for a really early easy reader, but intermediate kids could handle it with a little help. Some of the hardbacks appear to be out of print, but paperback and library bound editions are available. Recommended.

ISBN: 0162021221; Published September 2000 by Harcourt; Borrowed from the library

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