Mr. Putter & Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant

37078467Lynn: As our focus group started to read independently, I girded my mental loins for the arrival of beginning readers. What our school calls “Baggy Books” started coming home in their backpacks to be read every night. It’s a great concept and I have faithfully supported its practice but the books did nothing to change my mind about the overall quality of that reading experience. I had formed that opinion a long time ago when my own sons were that age. Trips to the public library and the beginning reader shelves did little to change my impression. Pretty dreadful stuff for the most part. Well – I am here to tell you that I just hadn’t been paying attention! Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of listening to my grandsons read some terrific early readers. We are going to try to work in more of the gems into our blog although many of you will already know about these terrific books. You can thump me with past copies of Booklist when you see me for not keeping up! But if, like me, you’ve been buried in YA, take a look at what has been happening for our youngest independent readers.

First up is the Mr. Putter & Tabby series that has been charming readers since 1994. We meet the pair in Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea (Harcourt, 1994). Mr. Putter is lonely and decides to get a cat. The pet store has nothing but kittens so he goes to the shelter where he finds “a yellow cat with creaking bones and thinning fur who seems to be a little deaf. But Mr. Putter creaked, his hair was thinning and he was a little deaf too.” Mr. Putter and Tabby go on to many adventures – all of them the everyday sort of variety. The stories are delightful and perfectly constructed for young readers to decipher. The stories – while gentle and simple – have great appeal and go down like M & M’s. Readers immediately want one more. Arthur Howard’s illustrations are a hoot – warm and bright and funny. He clearly knows cats and catches their mannerisms and attitudes perfectly.

58241686I discovered the series when the publisher sent us two new paperbacks. I read them with the focus group and we were hooked. Being the compulsive librarian-type I immediately went to the library for the first one in the series and we haven’t stopped since. The boys’ favorite so far is Mr. Putter & Tabby Toot the Horn (Harcourt 1998) but I can’t decide. I love Mr. Putter & Tabby Spill the Beans (Harcourt 2009) and Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish (Harcourt 2001)

I looked at past reviews and some reviewers wonder at the appeal of books about senior citizens for children but I have no doubts. First of all NO one could fail to love Mr. Putter but look at all the statistics about how many children are either being raised by grandparents or who spend a large part of each day with them. Mr. Putter is family.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Mr. Putter & Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant"

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  1. Lynn, I hope you’ll leave your link to your thoughts about Mr. Putter and Tabby over at The Book Chook. She’s hosting our I Can Read! Carnival that celebrates books and ideas for new readers. Here’s her link: http://www.thebookchook.com/2010/09/september-i-can-read-carnival.html

  2. dobrez@chartermi.net' Cindy Dobrez says:

    I was out of town and unable to add my comments to our post, but Lynn is right about these books. I’m a Cynthia Rylant fan and knew about Henry and Mudge but had missed the Mr. Putter series. I’ll be waiting for hand-me-down copies of the rest of the series from our Focus group as they round them up. I can’t get enough. I read four of these on the boat last week and the other adults on the boat all read them too and laughed and teared up sometimes. When Mr. Putter gives over his motorized model airplane to a young neighbor boy who reminds him of himself as a boy I cheered, and you will too. Get your hands on these books.

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