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Rocket encourages early readers

- How Rocket Learned to Read, by Tad Hills, Schwartz (Wade Books, $20.99) unpaged.

- How Rocket Learned to Read, by Tad Hills, Schwartz (Wade Books, $20.99) unpaged.

LEARNING to read is a really important accomplishment and Rocket the dog is urged to learn the "wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet" in this picture book about a cheerily keen bird teacher and a somewhat reluctant student.

Rocket has many enjoyable activities and includes them all in his daily routine. The routine is interrupted when a little yellow bird tells Rocket he is her first student and that class begins right away. Rocket demurs to no avail and pretty soon he is completely captivated by a story that was "as delicious as the earthy smells of fall."

This bird teacher has some good skills and ends the first lesson with a cliff hanger as Rocket demands to know whether the dog in the story did actually find a bone. Rocket has no idea he is being manipulated by a master and shows up at the teaching tree early the next day to discover how the story's plot turns out. He becomes an eager student in no time and learns the alphabet, including the letters required to spell the sound of a grumpy dog. When his teacher flies south for the winter, Rocket is impelled to practice his new skills by writing words in the snow and spelling everything he encounters. In the spring, the bird returns to her star student and they settle in to read and read and read.

Rocket looks a little bit like a younger relative of Harry, of Harry the Dirty Dog fame, although he has his own personality. He is eager and earnest and a real keener in the classroom.

The illustrations in this oversize offering are charming and gently humorous and help to reveal the happy-golucky student's relationship with his dedicated teacher.

Rocket's joy in reading is aptly depicted in several double-page illustrations. His "waggy tail" shows he is clearly planning on continuing to develop his newfound skill and he and his teacher have become fast friends at the end of the story.

Give this to the new reader in your home or classroom.

Some other books to do with reading and school are as follows:

- Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten, by Toni Buzzeo;

- The First Day of School, by Toby Forward;

- The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, by Laurie Hales Anderson; - Hooray for Reading Day!, by Margery Cuyler;

- How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, by Jane Yolen;

- How Do You Read to a Rabbit?, by Andrea Wayne von Konigslow;

- How to Teach a Slug to Read, by Susan Pearson;

- Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?, by Audrey Vernick;

- Little Rabbit Goes to School, by Harry Horse, and

- On the First Day of Grade School, by Emily Brenner.

Fran Ashdown is the children's librarian at the Capilano Branch of the North Vancouver District Public Library. Her mother taught her the wonderful alphabet and she has never looked back! For more library information, check out www.nvdpl.ca.

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