Wed 30 Dec 2009
Today’s guest reviewer on Read, Write, Repeat has three dogs. But 7-year-old Caleb is pretty sure Pepper, Raven and Izzy are nothing like the three hounds described in Jill Esbaum’s latest picture book, Stanza (Harcourt, 2009).
For one thing, Caleb says his dogs are usually polite, while the dogs in Jill’s book — Stanza, Fresco and Dirge – spend lots of time bullying people and annoying their neighbors.
For another, Caleb doubts his dogs have any hidden talents. They’re just … nice. But the canines Jill created all have secrets. When no one’s looking, Stanza writes poetry, Fresco paints and Dirge composes music. But they want everyone to think they’re tough, so they keep their talents hidden – until one fateful day when Stanza secretly writes a jingle promoting his favorite dog treats and enters it in a contest.
What happens when word gets out that the neighborhood hooligans have a softer side? Let’s check in with Caleb.
Our reviewer: Caleb
I like: Playing hockey, playing football and playing with my friends.
This book was about: Three dogs. One writes poems, but doesn’t want anyone to know – even his brothers.
The best part was when: Stanza and his brothers annoyed people on the street and everyone called them funny names like “flea-bitten thug” and “slobbery lug.”
I was worried when: Stanza’s brothers saw his poem on the sign and started teasing him.
I laughed when: The truck delivered Stanza’s prize from the contest – a year’s supply of dog treats – and Stanza’s brothers decided writing poetry was O.K.
I was surprised that: Stanza took second-place in the poetry contest, not first.
This book taught me: That you shouldn’t bully other people. And that you should do the things you like to do.
Other kids reading this book should watch for: The picture on the first two pages. There’s a lot going on.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Happy.” “Lucky.” “Laugh.”
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “He prowled through the streets with his two rotten brothers.”
You should read this book because: It’s funny.
Part of what makes Stanza shine is the upbeat rhyming text (Booklist called it “jaunty”) which is as fun to read as it is to listen to. And the bright illustrations share a lot of insights into why the brothers act like they do.
This is one of several great picture books by Jill Esbaum. For details on her other works, visit her Web site. And if you want to know a little more about Jill, check out this interview at Three Silly Chicks.
If you want to learn more about illustrator Jack E. Davis, visit this Web site.
Are you like Stanza? Do you have any secret talents you haven’t shared?