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WILLOW BUDS: THE TALE OF TOAD AND BADGER (Willow Buds 1)

Author: Mary Jane Begin

Illustrator: Mary Jane Begin

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, ©2008

Material: hard cover

Summary: Ratty has been keeping a journal, and before he forgets, he wants to write down the story of how Toady and Badger became such good friends. He especially wants to tell the story about what happened when Toady ripped Andy, Badger's beloved toy. This is the first title in a new series of elementary readers books inspired by The Wind in the Willows.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, learning to read, early reader book, read aloud book, remedial reader, reluctant reader

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9

Reading Level: 5.8

Age of Child: Read with nearly 7-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: It took several weeks of encouragement to engage our daughter in this book, but once we did, she enjoyed the pictures and story. She was quick to point out some of Toady's poor behavior, and WE took the opportunity to ask her for suggestions on how to make it go better! She thought the book was "sweet," but has not wanted to read it again.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a cute story, and the illustrations of toddler Toady and Badger are just adorable. Introducing the story through a diary entry was a great way to set up this prequel. Even though the book didn't go over well now, it might be handy to have later, when we read The Wind in the Willows.

Pros: Beautiful illustrations and a touching story about how friendships form combine for a wonderful prequel to a children's classic. The book offers an original twist on the theme of frinedship that soars even if you don't know this is a prequel.

Cons: This book may be better enjoyed after you've read Wind in the Willows.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. In and of itself, this is a great book to share as a story. Although linked to a children's classic, it doesn't reach that level itself.

If You Liked This Book, Try: MISS SPIDER'S TEA PARTY   FINKLEHOPPER FROG   MISS SUZY: 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Educational Themes: This book is intended to introduce you to Toady, Ratty, and Badger, the key characters in The Wind in the Willows. Even without knowing this is connected to that children's classic, the story offers wonderful lessons on friendship, admitting to your actions, saying your sorry, understanding others, and respect.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.8

Literary Categories: fiction - picture book, adventure, fantasy, classics, animal stories

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2008

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