BOOKS: New picture book echoes trials of learning to writeRocket loves books. He even likes the way they smell. Rocket likes words, too. He sniffs out words like “buttercup,” “bug” and “feather.”
By: Jean Patrick, Republic Book Columnist
Rocket loves books. He even likes the way they smell. Rocket likes words, too. He sniffs out words like “buttercup,” “bug” and “feather.”
In “Rocket Writes a Story,” by Tad Hills, the loveable grey-and-white Rocket (a puppy) looks at his word collection and — you guessed it — decides to write a story.
It isn’t as easy as he thinks, but when he finds something inspiring, the story takes off.
At this point, “Rocket Writes a Story” begins to follow a subplot. Rocket’s inspiration is the tree with the nest that has the delightful smell of pine needles and feathers. After he speaks to the tree, three letters made of feathers appear in the grass below: O-W-L.
From this point, the book naturally blends the challenge of writing with the joy of making a new friend.
“Rocket Writes a Story” is longer than many picture books. However, it’s just the right listening level for kids who are learning to write.
But the story doesn’t take place in a traditional classroom setting. Instead, it takes place outside. In fact, his teacher is a tiny yellow bird with a gigantic heart of enthusiasm.
When she introduces the word “up” she says, “This one is small, but I promise it’ll come in handy.” When she sees Rocket’s word “owl” she says: “Only three letters, but what a word.”
Rocket’s canine background also provides wordplay. He sniffs out new words. He lifts his nose to the breeze for inspiration. He finds trees interesting.
Even his emotions are dog-like. When his writing is going well, he wags his tail. When it’s not, he growls.
This isn’t Rocket’s first time in the literary world. He’s also the star of the best-selling picture book “Rocket Learns to Read.”
Tad Hills, creator of the Rocket books, is also author and illustrator of the Duck and Goose books. He has a dog named Rocket, who hasn’t learned how to read and write — yet!
“Rocket Writes a Story.” By Tad Hills. Schwartz and Wade, 2012, 40 pp.