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RICK AND RACK AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS (Balloon Toons)

Author: Ethan Long

Illustrator: Ethan Long

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Publisher: Blue Apple Books,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Rick (a raccoon) and Rack (a deer) are good friends. When Rack wants to go fishing, he has to convince Rick that it will be fun. Rack isn't convinced. Then, the two friends go on a hike ... which isn't much fun either until they find some mysterious tracks on the ground. A shark? a rhino? a fire-breathing dragon? That didn't go well either. So then they try paddling a canoe. Things are bound to get better, right? This is an easy reader with three short, humorous stories for kids learning to read.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 6; read yourself: 6 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 7

Reading Level: 1.3

Age of Child: Read with boys ages 4 and 6

Young Reader Reaction: My 4-year old LOVED this book. Because of the comic-strip style, there were lots of squares with action in each square, and he loved to just look closely and investigate the content of the pictures. It was a very VISUAL book, so I think it was easy for him to "read" the story using the pictures. He would sit down on his own and just flip through the pages.

I did not expect my children to like it was much as they did. They absolutely devoured it. I would highly recommend trying this book format as a change-up for other children's books, just to expose the kids to a different style of media. If you have a reluctant reader, this might also be a great attempt at finding a medium that your child responds to.

Adult Reader Reaction: These are cute (if not predictable) stories. It uses a comic book/graphic novel format and simple words. There are lots of wordless frames that not only help move the story along and create context, but give readers of varying ages a chance to create a story all their own. I also like that it is in a landscape format ... a nice change for an easy reader.

Second parent reviewer: I liked the book. I loved that my son loved to look through it and that the two characters were friends. The humor was refreshing for my own sake, particularly for an adult who reads a LOT of children's books. I also appreciated that the humor had a bit of irony, exposing my children to a bit of sophistication in the presentation of humor. The two characters play off each other well. Rick is a cheery, positive figure, excited to try new things, while Rack is a grumpy pessimist, who thinks things are BORING. It works in the end, because Rack convinces Rick to try the fun and Rack changes his mind and starts to enjoy himself.

Pros: Kids will laugh at the antics of these two friends and their attempts to do something fun together.

Cons: None. Note that Barnes and Noble characterizes this as a book for ages 12 and up. Preteens would be bored with this and there is no high-low interest.

Second parent: The word "BORING" (a personal pet peeve).

Borrow or Buy: Borrow or buy. I can go either way on this one. If I have a toddler or kids of mixed ages, I would consider buying this because the wordless content would give them an opportunity to "read." The size also lets them handle a book that fits comfortably on their lap.
Second parent reviewer: This is a great book. If you have a reluctant reader who might respond well to this format, BUY it so they can read and re-read and re-read the book. Otherwise, this is a great library find!

If You Liked This Book, Try: JACK AND THE BOX (TOON BOOKS)   ZIG and WIKKI IN SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK (Toon Books)   ARE YOU READY TO PLAY OUTSIDE (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Educational Themes: Despite the light text, Rick and Rack have distinct personality traits (Rick likes to jus tlay around, Rack likes to do stuff). This creates opportunities to talk about friendship, doing things together, respect, etc.

Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - animal characters, adventure, humor, easy reader series, friendship

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2010, January 2012

Other Reviews:




                 

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