Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Woodward and McTwee by Jonathan Fenske

I discovered this author through Cybils and was delighted by the fresh color, clean lines, and simple but sweet story. I said at the time I'd buy any more easy readers he did...and he did and I did!

Woodward and McTwee is a more conventional easy reader pairing, featuring two stories about Woodward the hippo and McTwee the bird. The first story, "The Really Silly Hippo" has McTwee playing a trick on the slower Woodward...but he gets his comeuppance in the end. The second story, "Hide and Seek" has the friends trying to play a game, but naturally Woodward isn't very good at the hiding part. When McTwee tries to show off...he gets his comeuppance again. This isn't exactly the usual friendly give and take of the traditional easy reader odd couple. It's more Charise Mericle Harper than Mo Willems - McTwee is actually kind of mean to the slower-moving Woodward, but Woodward always has the last laugh.

The art and story is organized into panels, marked not by the usual borders but by the different background colors. The pages are divided into sections, each with an image of Woodward and McTwee and now and then a few props. They alternate with a white or yellow background, breaking up the story into sections. There are also two red panels, each showing the story twist when Woodward gets the upper hand. Woodward has the most expressive face, ranging from simple surprise and eagerness to long-suffering, patient resignation at McTwee's antics. McTwee's expressions come through his whole body as he bounces, twists, flutters, and laughs his way through the pages.

Verdict: This is a fun new addition to the early reader odd couple genre. Fans of Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie and Cherise Mericle Harper's Beandog and Nugget will approve.

ISBN: 9780448479927; Published 2014 by Penguin Young Readers; Purchased for the library

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