Dear Tabby; Cat Secrets; April Fool, Phyliss Picture Book Recap

Dear TabbyDear Tabby by Carolyn Crimi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tabby is set up in the alley with a typewriter and a letter for business as a giver of advice. Table scraps are an acceptable form of payment. The stationary used by each of Tabby’s correspondents is wonderfully unique.

My favorite letter may be a longwinded one from Pauline the Parrot. Pauline: “I love to talk and talk and talk and sometimes I do find myself talking too much, but then I remind myself I am a parrot.” Tabby’s response to Stanky is pretty amusing as well with ‘for every saltshaker there’s a pepper mill.’

I was startled by the random bear in a tutu in this story, but a few pages later I learned the bear was not as random as I thought. The ending of this book is adorably appropriate, but I do wonder what happened to Boots afterward.

A great extension with perspective taking for this story would be to have students write letters to Tabby and then have them answer other letters as Tabby

I loved finding the letter from the groundhog with this book because I’d just finished reading April Fool, Phyliss, which is about a groundhog family. It also pairs well with Cat Secrets. There is an older, non-picturebook that is also titled Dear Tabby that could make for a fun pairing with older elementary students.

Cat SecretsCat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj begins with a cat saying “I’m sorry–this book is not for you. This book is for Cats Only.” I have read a number of books where the narrator tells the reader to stop reading. A cat makes it cuter.

The diagram of who cannot read the book reminds me a lot of Scaredy Squirrel. This book definitely breaks the fourth wall as does Mo Willems’ We are in a Book. They style of this picture book will appeal to kids who like graphic novels (or could introduce kids to graphic novels).

Before any cat secrets are divulged, the cats in this book demand the reader pass a cat test. This has great potential for a read aloud with pauses for the kids to answer.

April Fools', Phyllis!April Fools’, Phyllis! by Susanna Leonard Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the cover there’s a groundhog wearing a jester’s cap with bells. Now I’m longing for Renfaire. Illustrations of the family home show Punxsutawney Phil after Punxsutawney Phil. The book’s title character is a self-proclaimed Weather Prophet Extraordinaire. How could she not be with a name like Punxsutawney Phyliss?

I love the newspaper her uncle’s reading: Woodchuck Weekly. Headline: Shadows! Why do they scare us?

April 1 is the day of the spring treasure hunt. Phyliss tries to warn everyone of a blizzard, but no one listens. Soon her relatives are all pulling pranks to make it look like they believe Phyliss about the blizzard. While everyone hunts busily for the treasure clues, no one really seems to notice the weather changing.

I love the look of the snow on the cattails halfway through this book. The art seems impressionistic. At the back of the book are some facts about April Fools’ Day to enjoy once the treasure hunt and weather warning are past.

Did you know April 1 was New Year’s Day according to the Julian Calendar? It also once marked the end of an eight day celebration of the start of spring.

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