GO TO THE END OF THIS REVIEW FOR GIVEAWAY DETAILS!
In the cat versus dog debate, I’m with the cats. I know a few people who can enjoy both species, but let’s be honest, most of us are cat-people or dog-people, and not often the two shall meet within the same person. I realize that as a cat person, I am always a few short steps away from being a crazy cat lady, a term that applies just as well to men as it does to women (I have several male friends who are “crazy cat ladies” and yes, you know who you are). But if cat people are a few steps away from hoarding twenty felines in their homes, dog people are a few steps away from pouring Perrier in the water bowl and carrying their furry friend around in a designer handbag. Cats would never stand for a designer handbag, and that’s why I like them better.
Ike LaRue, on the other hand, would, I have a feeling, LOVE a designer handbag. In this cute story, he would, if he could, specifically choose a designer handbag that was not in the vicinity of his neighbor’s cats and preferably somewhere on a cruise ship that would itself be in the vicinity of Mexico.
I will admit to never having read an Ike LaRue adventure before this one. I’d heard of them certainly, but until recently, our paths had never crossed. I’m lucky, however, that they recently did.
Summary and Review:
Ike LaRue is a sarcastic dog. A sarcastic, clever, well-spoken, and whiny (but hilarious!) dog who doesn’t much like cats. Specifically, he doesn’t like the two cats he is now stuck with on a cross-country road trip. And as he writes letters to his neighbor, the hospitalized owner of the cats, he tells her in no uncertain terms why he thinks everyone would be better off if the cats just went home (and he went on a cruise).
When Ike’s neighbor falls sick and Ike’s owner, Mrs. LaRue, agrees to care for the cats, Ike’s vacation is—according to him, at least—completely ruined. The cruise ship doesn’t take cats, so they plan a cross-country drive instead. And while the rest of the inhabitants seem to be enjoying the views and the adventures, Ike writes postcards home to the cats’ owner, stretching the truth and feigning to care about the happiness of others while he tries to get permission to send the cats home. He’s even willing to put them in a box and mail them. I love the language of the book–the dog has great vocabulary and grammar! A notch up from your average picture book and I like the chance to introduce my son to great writing. And the pictures are gorgeously fun.
Each page of this beautifully illustrated book shows a different destination on the trip. One thing I appreciate is that the trip doesn’t take them to stereotypical tourist places of the Mount Rushmore type. Instead, they visit Bumbletub, Ohio, and Pea Gravel, South Dakota, amongst other locales. I love that the endpapers are illustrated maps of the United States. My son really enjoys checking the map with every turn of the page and asking where they are now. This is a great way to reinforce some basic geography and learn a little about the 50 states as they read. I do wish there were a few more details about the places they visit…you do learn about the Empire State Building and the Great Lakes, for example, but in other places the story sometimes has nothing to do with the geography of the area and I think that’s a lost opportunity. (That’s the teacher in me, I suppose.)
This is a picture book geared towards older kids. My son is three and at this point the humor and sarcasm go over his head. However, he still enjoys the book, requests to read it, and loves the maps, and will only enjoy it more as he gets older.
If you like this book, I would definitely check out the other LaRue books, in which he writes letters to try to come home early from obedience school, gets framed for a cat-napping, and even runs for mayor!
You can see a trailer of this book at: http://bcove.me/h5z47m2c
Follow-up with the kids:
Definitely take advantage of the map in the book. With each page, look at the postcard and where it’s addressed from. (This would be a great time to show kids how a letter should be addressed, with the date, location, salutation, etc. It may be the digital age, but can we pass these habits along to at least one more generation?) Then find the location on the map. You might also want to take this a step further, and for each location he visits you can research on the internet or an atlas to find out one or two more things about those places.
For older kids who are into story-telling, I think this would be a great voice to copy. Have the kids write their own postcards from Ike LaRue (or their own sarcastic pet) and see if they can mimic the hyperbole, the stretching of the truth, and the insinuation of dangerously dire circumstances.
And now for the giveway! I have TWO COPIES of LaRue Across America to give away, and I’m excited about that. I will choose a winner at random and your copy will be sent to you straight from Scholastic. This giveaway is sponsored by Scholastic and is open to any addresses in the United States.
You may enter once for each of the following things. For each entry, please post a separate comment below. CONTEST CLOSES ON MONDAY, MARCH 28 AT MIDNIGHT CENTRAL TIME. Winner will be announced on the 29th. Good luck!
One entry for:
- tell me your favorite picture book
One extra entry each for:
- subscribing to this blog — Link at top right
- following my twitter feed — Link at top right
- tweeting about the contest with a link to this blog
- posting a link to the contest on your own blog
- RATE my blog on Top Mommy Blogs (the scale is in cupcakes, 10 means you like it a lot, 1 means you are just suffering through for the contest :); comments optional) — Link at right
(Note: My copy of LaRue Across America was provided free by Scholastic. This review contains my own thoughts and opinions about the story.)