Title: Finding Fuzzy: A “You-Decide Tale” of a Lost Friend (Sweet T Tales) | Author: Cat Michaels | Illustrator: Renee (Mother)| Publication Date: March 26, 2014 | Publisher: 2101 Ink | Pages: 44 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 10 | Reviewed by:
Summary: Illustrated chapter book for early readers (Gr. K-3)
Blue sky …
Warm sea …
Sugar-sand beach …
The perfect family vacation on the Carolina coast …
Except the trip takes a nosedive when Jenna loses Fuzzy, her plush blue rabbit pal. Jenna learns to carry on without him. But when she stumbles across a secret, she faces the toughest decision of her young life. And YOU, the reader, will help her make that choice and come up with the ending of this You-Decide tale. Don’t worry. Cat shows you how in her book and on her website.
So, slip on your flip-flops and join Jenna at the shore. It’s time to decide YOUR ending for Finding Fuzzy.
Caution: Irene A. Jahn’s ocean-themed watercolors have been known to cause beach fever.
My Thoughts: I was very excited when I was asked to review this book because I love the concept of “interactive” books. We have reviewed When Sam Set Sail by LeAnn Beck which allowed for children to illustrate the story themselves and we frequently borrow the Choose-Your-Ending stories from the library. I tink that there is some benefit to these types of stories as the reader moves from being passive to being active in the story. In the case of Finding Fuzzy, the reader is only taken so far in the story, and it is up to them to create a fitting end to the story.
The basic premise of the story is that a young girl, Jenna and her family, go on vacation to the oceanside where Jenna loses her beloved stuffy, Fuzzy. While initially she is devastated, Jenna’s sisters support and comfort her and she eventually begins to accept that Fuzzy may be gone forever. But, just as the family is wrapping up their vacation, they discover that Fuzzy was “taken” and is being used as a bed for some newborn kittens. Jenna must decide if she will leave Fuzzy behind to protect the kittens or recover her beloved friend. The book itself has beautifully designed pages where kids can write and draw out the rest of the story, or these pages can be downloaded directly from the author’s website. This is what they look like:
Children aren’t left to their own devices in undertaking this exercise. The author has included a guide for parents or teachers, (referred to in the text as “Reading Assistants”), to help children think through their ending before they put pencil to paper. For example, there is an outline of steps in the process of creating an ending: 1. Brainstorming ideas; 2. Narrowing the ideas and thinking through the consequences of each option; and, 3. Expressing themselves through writing (verbal learners) and/or pictures (non-verbal learners). I thought this was an easy-to-use and very helpful guideline.
When my children each were given the opportunity to create their own ending. Here is what my verbal learners came up with:
What does Jenna Decide? Jenna decides that Fuzzy is too important to leave with the kittens. But then she decides that it’s also not ok to take Fuzzy away from the kittens. So, she decides to bring Fuzzy, the kittens, and the Mommy cat home with her. And they all lived together happily ever after and the kittens got to try out cat food along with the Mommy cat. They all had a good and happy life.
What did you think of the book? I really liked the book and I liked writing the end myself. I had lots of different ideas for how to end it.
What does Jenna Decide? Jenna decides to leave Fuzzy for the cats and go to the store and get a new one that looks exactly the same. The kittens get to keep Fuzzy who will protect them and keep them warm.
What did you think of the book? I kind of liked the book. I liked the story but I would have liked it to already have an ending because it’s hard to come up with one.
One final word about the illustrations… Irene A. Jahns provided the beautiful water-color illustrations to accompany the text. Finding Fuzzy is considered an early chapter book and children who are newly independent readers still do prefer illustrations in the books they read to break up the monotony of the text. Jahns does an amazing job of creating a “vacation” mood for the setting through the depiction of sweeping oceanside landscapes and snapshots of images such as a sand dollar, a beach pail, a barbecue, and more images that will leave you longing for summertime adventures to begin.
My Bottom Line: Finding Fuzzy is an early chapter book featuring the opportunity for children to create their own ending to a sweet, summertime story. The main character, Jenna, has a decision to make when she discovers that her beloved stuffed bunny she had lost is now being used to protect a litter of kittens. After weighing out all of the possible outcomes, it is up to the reader to decide what happens next in the story. I thought this was a unique concept that will interest children, especially ones who are interested in writing their own stories (like my daughter!). I recommend this book to parents, homeschoolers, and teachers with children between the ages of 5 and 10.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is participating in our Book Promotion Services. *
More Buzz About the Book
“The story is sweet, and suitable for all children. The book is set up to get kids to think and discuss what they would do in a certain situation–in this case, giving up a precious friend (the stuffed bunny.) I could see using this in either a classroom setting or as a bedtime story. The watercolor illustrations really capture a beachy mood and create a great visual for kids as well.. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Nikki B., Goodreads
“Cat Michaels has put young readers in a position to solve the dilemma. Readers must brainstorm and utilize their critical thinking skills to write the ending to Jenna’s story. This quick to read chapter book has small colorful illustrations that help readers imagine the beach. Readers will also find that the author has created a world where they use all five senses. The back of the book has tips for parents and teachers to help their readers.. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Kristi B., Goodreads
About the Author: Cat Michaels
CAT MICHAELS started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. After earning an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas, she spent two decades helping students from kindergarten to college reach their potential.
She also managed communication and resource development programs for an international high-tech company that included writing press releases and articles for trade journals. After recession and downsizings, she returned to her education roots, serving at a community college as a writing coach and learning specialist for students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities.
Cat spins tales of everyday life, with a twist of magic or twinge of mystery, that open young minds to new ways of thinking and looking at the world. Illustrations by watercolor artist Irene A. Jahns help bring that world to life. Cat and her family live in North Carolina where she designs playful gardens, dabbles in all things digital, and writes.
* Download free pdf of chapter 1 and You-Decide pages by visiting http://www.catmichaelswriter.com/finding-fuzzy-a-you-decide-tale-of-a-lost-friend.html *
* Giveaway *
Prize: Two winners will each receive a signed, print copy of Finding Fuzzy + a $10 Amazon Gift Card
Contest ends: June 1, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: United States & Canada
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Two winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cat Michaels and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.