Book: Tulip and Rex Write a Story
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrator: Sarah Massini
Age Range: 4-8
Tulip and Rex Write a Story is the sequel to Tulip Loves Rex, written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Sarah Massini. In Tulip and Rex Write a Story, young Tulip plans to spend the day with her beloved and unusual dog Rex. When a package arrives from Grandma containing a pretty notebook for Tulip and a new leash for Rex, they decide to head out for a walk / neighborhood exploration. As Tulip and Rex notice the "wonderful" words that mark their experiences, Tulip starts jotting the words down in her notebook. Eventually, she realizes that she can transform the words, and her experiences, into a story. Readers get a glimpse into Tulip and Rex's story before the book ends with a cheerful family picnic.
As an adult reader, I found this book to be a bit too contrived, as Tulip putters about putting words like "butterfly" into her journal. But I think that kids who are just learning to read themselves will enjoy it, and might even be inspired to think about making up their own stories. Here's a snippet of the word-finding:
"Just then, a butterfly landed atop Rex's nose!
"Butterflies flutter, Rex. Flutter, flutter.
Flutter is a lovely word, don't you think?
Rex wagged his tail. Flutter
was a lovely word; it tickled, too!
Into the notebook it went!
And butterfly, too."
Here "Flutter" and "butterfly" are shown in a large, orange font (not quite the same color shown here), clearly standing out from the rest of the text. Later, when some of the words from the notebook make their way into Tulip's story, they are colored also. Sort of a vocabulary recap. Like this:
"But wait! There came a
feather floating from the sky.
It was no ordinary feature; why,
it seemed to dance! King Rex
grasped the magical feather and
held it aloft and, as if he had the
wings of a butterfly, Kind Rex
sailed across the moat and--"
The story within the story isn't finished - leaving kids to imagine for themselves how it might end.
I also do quite like Massini's illustrations. The joy of both Tulip and Rex comes through, with the dog a large, benign presence on every page. I also like how, in both text and illustrations, the authors make the parents recede to the background. If you were just reading the text, you might think that Tulip and Rex are out exploring on their own for most of the book. But Massini shows the parents periodically, always in the background, barely visible, but present. Adults reading this book to children can reassure anxious kids that yes, Mommy and Daddy are nearby.
Fans of Tulip Loves Rex will certainly want to give Tulip and Rex Write a Story a look. While it doesn't have the same emphasis that the first book does on dance, it does convey the same joyful exuberance of the characters. I think this book will also work for kids just on the cusp of being readers and writers, who are intrigued by words. It would pair well with Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills, and could make an interesting (if slightly lengthy) classroom read-aloud.
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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