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“You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” More
Summary: Do you have an “outside the box” kid? You will love reading about Chowder, the distinctly different bulldog. From the first page, you realize Chowder is not your ordinary canine but, just like everyone else in the world, he’s looking for friends. Leave plenty of time for thinking, wondering and exploring each page’s illustrations as well as the text. This is a story with a lesson in the importance of being different.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 10 to 12
Interest Level: 5 to 10
Reading Level: 4.9
Age of Child: This book was read to a group of 6-year-old children.
Young Reader Reaction: We had lots of giggles and “let’s get to the next page to see what else Chowder is going to do” when this book was read aloud.
Adult Reader Reaction: The first time I read this book, it didn’t really grab me but I think it was because I was trying to whiz through too quickly (an easy temptation whenever reading a children’s book with only a few lines on each of the first pages). However, when I read it the second time in preparation for sharing, I discovered lots of layers. Looking at the illustrations uncovered new levels within the story and seemed perfect opportunities to do what I call “thinking, wondering and pondering” with children. The highlighted words are opportunities to highlight new vocabulary from gurgle to groan.
Pros: The illustrations make Chowder loveable from the beginning even though he’s an odd sort. The vocabulary is great and the message about finding new friends and appreciating the differences is a critical one in our increasingly diverse society. The author even allows a bit of inference (reading between the lines), stuff you have to try to figure out (like what kind of game were they playing or how did the zoo animals get telescopes). Peter Brown gives parents the perfect opportunity to talk about new words by highlighting them in a special font.
Cons: There were a few spots where I wanted the story to move faster than it did but those are easily overlooked. That gave me a feeling this book was too long. I also found a few out of place images that just confused me (like the ball going way up in the tree when it was originally stuck and then the animals being able to build a body pyramid high enough to rescue Chowder). The perspective is skewed.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. It's not a book I'd fly out to purchase right away.
Educational Themes: This is definitely a book for vocabulary building. I can also see it being used in conjunction with writing instruction (it has a good example of a strong introduction and conclusion). In character education, it could be used to discuss how being different is OK.
Literary Categories: Fiction - animal characters, humor, picture book