Tag Archives: Theodore Clymer

Picture Book Spotlight: Fish and Not Fish

Fish and Not Fish by Theodore Clymer
Published: Scholastic, 1982
Pages: 64
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We’re back with another book by Theodore Clymer, the follow-up to Little Dog Laughed for Level 3. The third reader level is a thicker book, once again alternating photographs with illustrations. The location shots in this volume are credited to Ocean World, a private aquarium in Crescent City, California that was originally a Seattle barge (no, really). The aquarium and entertainment complex is still in operation and has just made my list of quirky road stops to visit.

Thanks, Ocean World!

There are a series of illustrators listed, but the featured story is a version of “The Hen and the Bread” by James Marshall. Marshall was the illustrator for one of my favorite books, Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard, in case the style looks familiar. Marshall spent most of his childhood in my hometown, Beaumont, Texas, and once said,

“Beaumont is deep south and swampy and I hated it. I knew I would die if I stayed there so I diligently studied the viola, and eventually won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory in Boston.”

I also recall worrying I’d die there, so we’re basically twinsies.

Master of the side-eye.

Since this is a Clymer book, we’re also reintroduced to Ken, the boy who can’t do anything right. When first we see him, Ken can’t figure out if he should eat bait or not.

Don’t eat bait, Ken.

Here he is failing to feed a dolphin:

Point and laugh, kids. That’s why he’s here.

Twisting himself into a loom:

He BEGGED for the chance to screw this up…

And picking up a bowl of flour and shoving it in his helpless face:

Dammit, Ken.

Fish and Not Fish picks up where the last book left off and adds punctuation, dialog tags and a few new vocabulary words. The baking story was especially helpful during the last half of my daughter’s Kindergarten year when we were learning the rule “E makes the vowel say it’s name.” Highly recommended for beginning readers.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

Picture Book Spotlight: Little Dog Laughed

Little Dog Laughed by Theodore Clymer
Published: Silver Burdett Ginn Religion, 1982
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Goodreads

When I was in the Washington state elementary school system, we had textbooks. I don’t know if budget constraints or educational philosophies killed them off, but these days my daughter comes home with photocopied pamphlets. The pamphlets contain one story that uses words the kids are working on for the week, so we have to them, but none of them have been nearly as effective as my books from Theodore Clymer.

During the early 1980s, the school system relied on this series to introduce kids to reading. What makes these books so successful is word repetition; students feel like real readers fast when they can read full sentences by the end of the first book. What makes them so entertaining is the variety of stories they contain, repeating characters, and mix of photographic and hand-drawn illustration.

They also introduced us to Ken.

Ken is the bespectled fumbler in all of the Clymer books who can’t get anything right. Here he is failing to get a sandwich:

To the amusement of everyone else:

Someone is pointing and laughing at Ken on almost every page:

With good reason. Here he is dropping a ball on his face:

He even struggles to throw away trash:

Ken has a future in infomercials.

Resulting in more derision:

Here’s Ken trying to read a book. By this point, I’m surprised he doesn’t drop it on his foot.

Damn, Ken. Get it together.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter