PreS-Gr 2—In this adventure, Mittens is at school for show-and-tell. At first, the gray-and-white kitten remains safely in his crate, watching Nick paint at an easel and write at his desk. When the children go to gym, though, the restless feline escapes his carrying case and explores the room, walking across the piano keys and jumping onto the bookcase. A loud crash as the teacher and students return brings Mittens to everyone's attention, at last ("Purr. Purr."). Each page of this beginning reader has one or two simple sentences and a large, uncluttered illustration that enhances the quiet tone of this story. Hartung's soft-focus watercolors will make children want to touch Mittens's fur and hold him. Youngsters will enjoy this humorous tale.—Janene Corbin, Rosebank Elementary School, Nashville, TN
In Mittens' sixth outing, he goes to school to be Nick's show-and-tell, but sitting all day in his carrier is boring. Watching Nick write, then paint just increases Mittens' desire for "something to do." The clever kitten gets his opportunity when the class leaves for gym, and he escapes. The abacus on the math table is fun…until it crashes to the floor, scattering the beads. Running across the piano keys makes the most pleasant sound…but not the piano lid slamming shut. And flipping through the pages of a book is most satisfying…until the children's return startles the kitten into nudging it off the shelf. But Mittens is nothing if not honest, and when the teacher asks who dropped the book, his "Meow" is an admission of guilt that opens the door to giving him something to do--meeting the class. Hartung's watercolor illustrations capture the expressions of the kitten as his emotions vacillate from sad to pleased to bored to engaged to uh-oh-I'm-in-trouble, the last being an especially understandable and identifiable emotion for Mittens' emerging-reader audience. Ample white space and a large font support the short, simple sentences, and the few vocabulary words that may pose a challenge are repeated several times. With its feline star, school theme and mild suspense, this is another solid addition to early-reader collections. (Early reader. 4-7)
Lola M. Schaefer is the author of several books for children, including An Island Grows; Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed, an NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts; and What's Up, What's Down? She lives with her husband, Ted, in the mountains of north Georgia, where she occasionally observes the back end of a black bear, coyote, or gray fox.
In addition to illustrating the books about Mittens, Susan Kathleen Hartung has provided the art for numerous picture books, including One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis. She lives in Brooklyn, Michigan.