I loved all of these books, from the very first one where we meet Henry and his family and he gets Mudge, all the way through the most recent stories. They drew me in and charmed me, as much if not more than my children. It was easy to give my heart.
My children learned to read using these books, which I first read to them. In general, they were about second grade level when they read them. The girls loved hearing the stories from age 3 on. I never liked Dr. Seuss the way I love Cynthia Rylant's books.
In general, the stories take place in and around Henry's house or neighborhood. Some take place indoors, and some outside. One of our favorites involves Mudge being scared during a thunderstorm, a situation that our kids could relate to easily. Mudge is seen hiding in the couch, and in the bathroom.
These are wonderful early readers because they are so warm and engaging. The situations are realistic and believable, with some cute misunderstandings, like what is a family tree. They are not formulaic, like the Nate the Great series is.
Sucie Stevenson's simple illustrations appeal to both kids and grownups.
She captures all of the important parts, like the fur Mudge sheds in fear, or the exact color of Dave, the cat who looks like prunes. They are more cartoonish than portraits, but definitely capture the spirit and feel of the stories.
I can't help but smile when I come across these books at Barnes and Noble, and I often end up standing in the aisle re-reading them. They are the essence of happy childhood days.
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