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Waking Up Wendell: 12/29/10
A recent favorite book of my daughters is Waking Up Wendell by April Stevens. It has earned its way onto the multiple reads pile and was for about two weeks the nightly bedtime story.
The story begins in a tree outside Number 1 Fish Street. The birds wake up the dog who in turn wakes up the owner who puts the dog outside where he can wake up the resident of Number 2. And so it goes through a chain of events through each house and each resident until at last Wendell is awoken.
The book's first winning detail is its attention to sound. Each home is associated with a sound, a disturbance, be it a bird, a dog, a sewing machine, or a hungry cat, for example. All these sounds are written out as onomatopoeias that are easy and fun for young readers (such as my daughter) to read and perform.
The second great aspect of the book are its characters. Although they are all drawn as swine, they stand in for the diversity people and families who might live on any street. There are so many different characters to relate too. Sometimes we just stop to make up stories for the different houses.
And finally there's the simple fact that it's a counting one to ten book. At one end of the street is Number 1 Fish Street and at the other end of the block is Wendell's home, Number 10 Fish Street. The counting aspect of the book gives children a way to predict what happens next.