Reviews for Rocket Writes a Story

Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
Under the tutelage of the little yellow bird, the star of How Rocket Learned to Read (2010) is graduating from reading stories to writing one of his own. After a bit of writer's block, the earnest pup finds unexpected inspiration in the scent of pine needles and feathers. Following his nose, Rocket discovers a friendly but shy owl nesting high up in a tree. He decides to write a story about his new acquaintance, and the owl ventures a little further down the tree each day to hear Rocket read his work in progress. The little yellow bird's sage advice on the writing process and the story's focus on the rewards of creative expression will have children excitedly reaching for their own pencil and paper. Hills' illustrations are as winning as ever here, with soft lines, a natural palette, and the characters' tender expressions affirming the gentle spirit of this story about literary enterprise and forming friendships. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
A yellow bird taught Rocket to read ([cf2]How Rocket Learned to Read[cf1]), and now the little black-and-white dog wants to write a story. Inspired by his new owl friend, Rocket carefully crafts a story until it's ready to share. Textured oil-paint and colored-pencil illustrations enhance the engaging narrative; a mix of spot art and full-page illustrations adds variety.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
For new reader Rocket, every new book is a treasure and an adventure, "like a place he'd never been to, like a friend he'd never met." The little yellow bird introduced in How Rocket Learned to Read (2010) continues to teach and encourage this special dog. Rocket sniffs out wonderful new words in his environment, and the bird helps him create a glorious word tree. Now Rocket searches for ideas for his own story in which he can use his word collection. A shy, friendly owl provides the inspiration he needs, and he sets to work on his opus. It's not all smooth sailing; he writes, crosses out, and draws pictures, alternately wagging his tail and growling. Yellow bird helps with encouragement and questions, and Rocket keeps the owl informed about his work in progress. His finished story wins rave reviews from his teacher and his new owl friend. Hills maintains the same gentle tone he established in Rocket's first adventure. Yellow bird's innovative and thoughtful teaching methods are perfectly in sync with Rocket's thirst for learning. The plot moves along at a measured pace that stresses the step-by-step process of Rocket's endeavors. Illustrations rendered in oil paints and colored pencil lovingly depict the characters and events. A perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 May #2

In a natural follow-up to How Rocket Learned to Read (2010), the black-and-white puppy with a 1950s crew cut and an irrepressible desire to learn adds writing to his skills. Rocket literally sniffs out new words that he and his teacher, the yellow bird from the first book, display on notes on the branches of a word tree (a project tailor-made for teachers looking for their next bulletin board), and the dog struggles to find a topic, create characters, and find inspiration for his story. Hills is adept at showing Rocket's setbacks and successes ("When things were going well, he wagged his tail. When he didn't know what to write, he growled") while offering excellent tips for children following in the dog's footsteps. "Remember, stories take time," says the bird, who pushes Rocket to add details to his story and think about what his characters are like. Along the way, Hills gently demonstrates the power of stories to build bridges: a shy owl in a pine tree (the subject of Rocket's story) gradually befriends Rocket as the dog shares his story with her. Ages 4-8. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 July

PreS-Gr 2--The endearing dog who first encountered the joy of words in How Rocket Learned to Read (Random, 2010) wonders what he can do with all the words he's been collecting. "I'm going to write a story!" he announces to his friends, his teacher-a small yellow bird-and the world at large. But a story, he finds, is made of more than just words. With useful questions, positive feedback, and encouragement, Rocket's teacher keeps him interested in the journey that turns his words into something special. And he finds, as many writers do, that his topic (an owl) becomes his friend. Hills varies his perspectives and page formats so successfully that the book's repetitive color scheme never gets tiresome. Children will love deciphering the illustrated words that cover Rocket's teaching tree. Listeners, readers, and aspiring writers will appreciate the excellent description of the many ways that stories unfold.--Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

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