Saturday, December 29, 2018

Can't Catch Me (Timothy Knapman)

Author:  Timothy Knapman

Illustrator:   Simona Ciraolo

Target Ages:  3-7

Genre:  Picture Book


Publisher Summary: 
“I’m the fastest mouse in the world!”
Jake claims.  “I’m like the wind!
I’m faster than lightening!”

But will speed alone keep boastful
Jake from being caught by a cat,
a fox, a wolf, or a bear?

First Lines:
Here’s Jake,
the fastest mouse in the world.

OH, NO – he’s gone!
Quick!  After him!

Memorable Moment:
No spoilers on this one!  The ending is clever and memorable. 

This mischievous cumulative tale is reminiscent of The Gingerbread Man. Despite the similarities in the narratives, Can’t Catch Me has its own personality and twist. 

In this version, Jake the mouse takes on the role of the gingerbread man.   Jake boastfully taunts his predators.  He proves to be faster than the Old Tom Cat, the fox, the wolf, and the bear.  However, he is not as sly as the cat.  His arrogance blinds him to danger, which is a valuable lesson for all ages.

The pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the animation and energy of the mouse as well as the toil and frustration of the predatory animals.  The muted colors minimal backgrounds keep the focus on the action and characterization.

All in all, Can’t Catch Me is a cheeky, entertaining read!  It is one of those books kids will want to hear again and again.

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Predicting Skills:  Before you read, ask the children to guess what the book is about.  As you read, allow them to guess what will happen in each encounter and how they think the book will end.
  • Comparative Literature:  Read both Can’t Catch Me and a version of The Gingerbread Man.  Compare and contrast the two stories using a Venn diagram or other graphic organizer.
  • Characterization:  Discuss the characters of Jake and Old Tom Cat.  For instance, Old Tom Cat is dramatic.  He acts like he is starving.  As he sits watching the mouse, he is getting “thinner and thinner.”  He later uses this hyperbolic language to trick Jake. 
  • Science:  Discuss how animals have different defense mechanisms.  For example, the mouse is fast so he can outrun larger animals while cats are cunning and patient so they can sneak up on fast prey. 
  • Choral Reading:  Children can be prompted to read along on repetitive parts like when each predator “runs and runs,” and Jake chants multiple times  "can’t catch me” and “I’m the fastest mouse in the world.”    

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