Luthardt, K. (2004). Larabee. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers.
Appetizer: Larabee the dog accompanies Mr. Bowman as he delivers the mail each day. But more than anything else, Larabee would like to receive a piece of mail for him just once.
The illustrations are cute, colorful and child friendly. They also include a subtle jokes to encourage young readers (or adults who are reading the book aloud for the twentieth time this week) to spend time looking at the illustrations.
There is also quite a bit of multicultural representation in the illustrations and in the text (a number of characters say hello to Larabee in different languages or dialects).
The text does include a few three syllable words. A teacher could read aloud the book, but have a young reader supply some of the simpler or repeated words.
"This is Mr. Bowman. His is a mail carrier. This is his dog. His name is Larabee."
"Larabee likes to ride in the mail truck. He likes to help carry the mailbag too. But most of all he likes the mail. He wishes someone would send him a letter."
"Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza get a letter from their son in the army."
"But Lacey McNabb loves Larabee the most."
To Go with the Meal:
Young students will find Larabee to be very relatable. After all, what kid doesn't want to receive some mail just for them. (As a child, my mom would always let me open all the holiday mail addressed to the entire family. But it ended up being more of a pain, because I never knew the people the cards were from. But never fear, as an adult I regularly order books online. I getz me lotz of packages. I'm sure my postman secretly hates me. Or thinks I'm a crazy person who doesn't leave the house ever to go shopping like a normal person.)
This is a great picturebook for new readers to learn about how the mail is delivered and how to write letters. As an activity, students could write letters to Larabee, the mailman, their own pet or a family member.
Kids can also try to guess what each of the characters are getting in the mail. (One of the pages directly encourages this when Bruno the Butcher receives a package. But to be honest, in that particular case, I didn't want to think about what was in the box. Team Veggie for life!)
Since there are dialogue bubbles, a teacher could describe to young reader how to read those.
Tasty Rating: !!!