PreS—Toddlers will enjoy this oversize board book that features the endearing black-and-white pup, his yellow-feathered mentor, and the wide-eyed owlet featured in previous "Rocket" books. The first spread is a close-up of Rocket running through the grass. Lowercase, hand-lettered words identify "dog, tail, paw, ear, spot, nose," and "stick." Next, a series of verbs including "wag, dig, melt, run, sniff," and "nap" appear illustrated with the humorous poses fans of the series have come to love-snout in air, tail a blur-Hills knows dogs. Two spreads of a wood-framed blackboard with white-chalk-labeled illustrations are also included. These pictures represent random common objects such as foods, animals, household items, a car, and a robot. One page offers a close-up of the little bird, another has four evocative thumbnails of the dog labeled "mud, wind, snow," and "moon." Another spread introduces opposites with owl "up" and Rocket "down" or his tail the only indication that he is "in" a hollow log as opposed to "out." Lying cozily in the grass, the eager student listens to a story with a pile of books nearby. The final spread, "Small words that will come in handy," is a bit confusing as it features abstract sight words like "also, had, since, about," and "very" that babies or toddlers might not grasp. Still, the signature oil and colored pencil illustrations are colorful and charming, and the message that books and words are important is certainly a worthy one. More than 100 words/concepts are identified for little ones to learn.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
The star of How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story helps readers share his appreciation for words in this large-format board book. Each spread showcases anywhere from four to 23 words. Most feature Rocket in outdoor settings, as Hills shares parts of canine anatomy (tail, paw, ear), actions (wag, dig, nap), and prepositions (Rocket appears “in” and “out” of a log). Two “chalkboard” spreads feature chalk drawings of an array of common objects, and Rocket’s yellow bird friend wraps things up with a collection of “small words that will come in handy,” including from, now, since, how, and then. Rocket continues to be a winning guide dog of the literary kind. Ages 2–5. (July)
School Library Journal, October 2013:
"The signature oil and colored pencil illustrations are colorful and charming, and the message that books and words are important is certainly a worthy one. More than 100 words/concepts are identified for little ones to learn."
Hills' adorable black-and-white spotted dog named Rocket (How Rocket Learned to Read, 2010; Rocket Writes a Story, 2012) returns in this oversized vocabulary primer. There's no narrative to speak of here; this is a simple introduction to words for new readers. Children are first introduced to terms such as "dog," "tail," ear" and "spot" as they are printed on and around an iconic image of Rocket, running blissfully along with head thrown back, eyes closed and stick clutched firmly in his jaws. A spread featuring vignettes of Rocket in action presents verbs such as "wag," "dig," "sniff" and "nap." Two spreads are painted to resemble giant chalkboards covered with nouns and simple drawings representing each one, while the final pages feature Rocket's little yellow bird friend and a set of sight words on notecards scattered across a meadow. Many of the charming images will be familiar to readers, as they have appeared before, in part or whole, in other Rocket adventures. Nothing really new here, but Rocket fans--at least those who don't consider themselves too old for board books--may enjoy using this as a tool for practicing word recognition with the sweet puppy they've come to love. (Board book. 3-6)