Plot and Subplot in Eight Words

Margaret’s top picks:

“Superdog!” exclaims Tina when she sees the cover of Barnaby the Bedbug Detective, by Catherine Stier. Indeed, Barnaby is the first superhero I’ve ever met with a bedbug-bedecked cape.

My granddaughter and I thrill to the story of a too-bouncy-for-a-family shelter mutt who rises from zero to hero after his adoption by Martha and graduation from training school. Alas! When Barnaby sits proudly, head held high, at his discovery of bedbugs in a family’s home, the family doesn’t cheer. Has he done something wrong?

Take your child on Barnaby’s journey from zero to hero, with a brief hiatus back in zeroland, before his “best doggy smile” ever. Enjoy the beautiful artwork by Karen Zapp, whose warm, gentle pictures complement the gentle text, making this a story to enjoy as much as to learn from.
“Do you want to be my friend?” asks the little mouse of a long-tailed creature.

Not really. Turning the page, we see that the tail’s owner is too busy munching grass.

Perhaps the owner of this tail . . . .

Oh no! This tail’s owner is hungry!

What’s interesting about Do You Want to Be My Friend? by Eric Carle is that the pictures are mysterious enough not only for the three and four set, but also for the five and overs. And, of course, the fact that the author has rendered a complete plot and sub-plot in just eight words.

The conclusion is highly satisfactory. It ends with the right word (just one), danger, suspense, and . . . . Oops! No spoilers!
Another winner, but of a very different sort, is The Mitten, a classic tale retold by Jim Aylesworth. I’m not surprised it’s a classic when I see the fascination of the children. The story is simple enough: a boy loses his mitten, which is inhabited by one animal after another until finally the last one causes it to explode. One little boy looks SO serious, I just have to tell the children that the woods are full of places for animals to keep warm in the winter.

The back cover has a recipe for hot cocoa, a nice tie-in with the sub-theme of a grandma who makes cocoa and knits mittens.

My volunteer reading stint at the day care is over for now, as I’ve gotten a very welcome, and enjoyable, part-time job. But I hope to go back and kid-test covers if Coralie and I decide to test another cover for Scissortown. Although I can’t quite put my finger on what I’ve learned at the day care, I know it’s been beneficial as well as fun, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.

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