Late Nate in a Race

“This new entry in the “I Like to Read” series tells the tale of Nate, a reluctant mouse boy who would much rather sleep than participate in a running race with his siblings Jane and Jake. Nate is late to breakfast (“It is late. Nate is still not here”), but eventually his father gets him out of bed and out the door and his mother gets him signed up for the race, despite his protestations (“Nate says, ‘No. I like to go slow’”). When the race begins, Nate is still standing at the starting line, until an image of his mother cheering him on comes to mind, and he starts to run as fast as he can, ultimately winning the race. That’s a perplexing turnaround of questionable credibility, so there’s not much dramatic satisfaction in the conclusion. Otherwise, though, this early reader makes effective use of very short sentences, a limited number of words, a simple storyline, and lots of phonetic repetition and rhyme (certain sounds are repeated in close proximity, allowing new readers multiple opportunities to practice new skills). The line and watercolor illustrations depict a serene animal village full of grass and trees and enthusiastic little critters ready for a run. McCully returns to her more streamlined style here, with her featured mice simply drawn in a slightly cartoonish, largely textureless style. The volume is formatted larger than most of its kind; the full size pages allow for lots of space and for the use of a very large font size, which may offer some appeal. This is more useful as a decoding startup than as an actual story, but those seeking to develop the early readers section of their library may want to have a closer look at Nate’s misadventures.”

-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books