Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy Reader Radar: Turtle and Snake and the Christmas Tree by Kate Spohn

Turtle and Snake and the Christmas Tree. by Kate Spohn. 2000. Penguin. 32 pages. ISBN: 9780670888672 

Turtle and Snake and the Christmas Tree is a Level 1 title in the Viking Easy-to-Read series. The book jacket recommends this reading level for ages 4 to 7, or Preschool to Grade 1 - kids “getting started” with reading.

The story focuses on next door neighbors, Turtle and Snake, who go out on a snowy day to find a Christmas tree. At the tree farm, they become very particular about the types of trees they like. All the trees they find are too tall, too skinny, too wide, or too short. Only when they come back home, disappointed, do they realize the truly perfect Christmas tree is right in their backyard all along.

The text in this reader is very basic, making it perfect for those brand-new readers with just a few sight words under their belts. Sentences are kept short and simple, and certain words are repeated for emphasis. There is a definite pattern to the segment of the story where the two friends point out what they like and dislike about certain trees, where the same structure is repeated four times. The author also makes effective use of lists in the latter half of the book, presenting information in a consistent, predictable way.

The full-color illustrations fill the pages from top to bottom, which gives the book strong visual appeal, even if the animals themselves look sort of unusual. Turtle and Snake aren’t very expressive in their facial expressions, which is too bad, but the color scheme and Henkes-esque mice make up for that and draw the reader into the book anyway. For an adult who is familiar with all types of writing, the story might seem simplistic, and the ending cheesy and predictable, but for those new readers still learning about story structure, reading this book will be a perfect first experience with independent reading.

Share Turtle and Snake and the Christmas Tree with kids who have read the Biscuit books and are ready for a tiny bit more of a challenge. When the holidays are over, also check out the rest of the Turtle and Snake series, including Turtle and Snake Go Camping and Turtle and Snake at Work.

I borrowed Turtle and Snake and the Christmas Tree from my local public library. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat

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