Book: Mr. Putter & Tabby Smell the Roses
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Arthur Howard
Age Range: 5-8 (early reader)
Mr. Putter & Tabby Smell the Roses is the 24th book in this early reader series written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard. In this installment, Mrs. Teaberry celebrates a birthday. Mr. Putter, her long-time best friend, wants to do something different and special for her this year. After much reflection over cups of cocoa, Mr. Putter decides to take his plant-loving friend, together with their respective pets, to the local Conservatory. Even after Mrs. Teaberry's dog, Zeke, causes a bit of chaos, the friends have a wonderful day together.
There are amusing moments in Mr. Putter & Tabby Smell the Roses, like when Zeke is able to behave himself "for five minutes" and when Mrs. Teaberry ends up with "a head full of leaves". The book also displays quiet heart. My favorite passage was this one (right after entering the Conservatory):
"Mr. Putter sniffed the air.
It smelled all wet and flowery.
It reminded him of going outside
in the rain when he was a boy.
It smelled so green."
Lovely! Howard's illustrations share the same mix of warmth and humor, from Mrs. Teaberry smiling on receiving a compliment on her appearance to Tabby's rear end visible from the heights of a lemon tree.
I also liked the overall message (delivered in a non-didactic way) that a) the way to celebrate someone's birthday is to think about what they like and b) that what's most important is just being together with your favorite people (or animals). Reading this book to my not-quite-reading-on-her-own daughter, it was enough for us to slide into a discussion about what our own family members might want to do to celebrate their birthdays.
Of course, Mr. Putter & Tabby Smell the Roses is meant to be read by new readers on their own (perhaps with a bit of help for words like "Conservatory". Rylant is expert at keeping her sentences short and vocabulary accessible, while making the story interesting. Mr. Putter & Tabby Smell the Roses is another fine installment to this long-running series. A must- purchase for libraries serving new readers, this particular title would also make a nice birthday gift for a five or six year old. Recommended.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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