Hills' book, How Rocket Learned to Read, was published a couple of months ago during the summer. Holding it in my hands and having just finished reading it, I can personally attest to the validity of all the rave reviews. The reading audience will fall in love with the adorable illustrations rendered in oil paint and colored pencils as they explicitly convey expression, mood, time passage and, of course, the wide-eyed wonder of learning to read.
Rocket's idyllic life as a dog is interrupted one fall day by a small yellow bird that sings out that he is her student. How can that be? She says that because she is a teacher he must be her student.
Rocket is having none of that and moves to take a nap. As she begins to read from a book Rocket's attention is captured and before he knows it, he goes over to investigate only to find that she has left.
Guess who shows up bright and early the next morning to find out how the story ends?
As with all great teacher and student connections patiently, step-by-step, the world of letters and words is linked together to reveal the possibilities to Rocket. As the seasons shift from fall to winter, Rocket faithfully uses what he has been taught spelling out words that match those things in his world until his teacher can return in the spring.
Spring brings the continuation of Rocket's education and with it the reader's wonderment at the amazing gift of words which are built one letter at a time.
Willems is a genius of understated humor using his combination of hand drawn ink and colored illustrations that are digitally composed with photographs to convey each and every slightest emotion of the characters. On subsequent readings the reader will, as I have, discover new details that only add to the sheer delight and tenderness of this story.
This volume completes the trilogy of Knuffle Bunny books which began with Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale, and was followed by Caldecott Honor book, Knuffle Bunny Too: a case of mistaken identity.
Trixie and her parents are flying to Holland to visit her "Oma" and "Opa". It is a huge, exciting trip fraught with all the complications of air travel. As we have come to expect Knuffle Bunny has an adventure that is completely separate from the others.
Trixie's anxiety at leaving Knuffle Bunny on the plane is heartfelt as is the portrayal of her trying to adjust to the loss while attempting to enjoy all the wonders of this long anticipated visit.
Without giving away the twist in this tale Mo Willems concludes Trixie's Kuffle Bunny books with a letter of love to his daughter. In my humble opinion he has saved the best book for last.
This trio will become, if not already, a classic for generations of all ages to enjoy.
Willems web site is a treasure trove of information about his books, ideas for educators, fun for younger readers and his blog contains videos which enrich the experience of his books. The clips on this latest book are wonderfully informative.