Among the books that were overdue was this gem: The Cat on the Mat is Flat, by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton (9 chapters, 166 pages, Feiwel and Friends, 2006).
This book is a series of rhyming stories, illustrated with black and white cartoons. It is utterly perfect for the boy, aged 7-9, who is having a hard time with reading. It is not just that the stories are easy to read--if one wanted that, one could grab any number of books without a second thought. But almost all of them would look like baby books, whereas The Cat on the Mat is Flat looks like a Real Book that a Cool Boy might be carrying around. The front cover, with its scenes of cartoon violence, shows clearly that this is not a book for the very young and very sweet (although my boys often are; perhaps consistantly sweet is closer to what I mean).
Although the words are such as one might find in, say, an Usbourne book like Toad Makes a Road, the cartoons that accompany them and the slapsticky mayhem of the rhyming stories are very boy friendly (which is not, of course, to buy into gender stereotypes, but for whatever reason I truly believe that boys will find a cat being whacked with a baseball bat more amusing than girls will). For example:
Around and around and around the matIf you, like me, want to see your 7 year old boy sitting reading by himself, try this book.
the rat chased the cat with the baseball bat
Never again did that cat chase the rat--
the cat was much too flat for that.
Andy Griffiths is the author of The Day My Butt Went Psycho, and other books for older kids.
Here are some other reactions to this book (and strangely they all seem to agree with my own opinion. Coincidence or conspiracy?) at BookBoy, at Pink Me, and atWhat You Want to Read.
(and incidentally, these are new blogs for me, and it felt rather adventurous to venture out into new territory. All three looked interesting, and I plan to go back, and explore them further. In my copious free time ha ha).