272. Tommy O'Toole and Larry by Anna D. Cordts

Tommy O'Toole and Larry by Anna D. Cordts. Illustrations by Vic Harvel Studios. Out of Print
Tommy O'Toole, Grade 1

Pages: 96
Ages: 7+
Finished: Dec. 13, 2011
First Published: 1957
Publisher: Benefic Press
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

It was night.

Acquired: Purchased a used copy at a book sale.

Reason for Reading: Ds read aloud to me as his reader.

Wonderful Benefic Press!  They had tons of "readers" that were actually novels and were graded for each year from Gr.1 to 5 or 6.  I never used them in school but they were in both my school library and public library and I signed out anything they published without even seeing what it was about.  I don't remember any titles but I do remember series about race car driving, underwater diving, cowboys, an outer space family.  Gee, they all seem boy-targeted don't they?  I'd never heard of "Tommy O'Toole" before but wouldn't pass up owning this delight for anything.

This is the first in the series, written for the Grade 1 class; it progressively increases in reading ability from short easy sentences to longer on level sentences with a few above-level words by the end of the book.  Like a normal school reader of the time, it has a vocabulary page and after that is a section of school phonics lessons (we didn't read this part, my son wanted to actually, but I said let's just enjoy the story and leave it there).

Ds loved the book!  The story is about Tommy O'Toole, age unknown, but a young working man, possibly in his middle twenties.  Some illustrations make him look almost teenage, while others definitely make him almost "Dad" age, but he is certainly a man.  Tommy finds a stray, hungry collie dog and takes him in.  Tommy works at the railroad as a "hoop-man" and he trains Larry to retrieve the hoops.  The book is filled with adventures and local children often come to the train yard, are friends with Tommy, love Larry and get involved with the action.  The story is surprisingly not very old-fashioned at all except in the time period which is easy to explain away by looking at the book as historically set in the fifties.  Otherwise the children include boys and girls and the adventures are quite exciting.  There is one where the dog goes missing and is found caught in an animal trap.  There is a small picture on every page done in two tones, red/gray, but there is more text per page than picture.  Even though the book is Gr. 1, I think the expectations in 1957 were higher than today and the book is more equal to at least Gr. 2.  A very impressive story, and ds read it very well.

Unfortunately, I do not have the second book, but I do have the 3rd one.  So we will get to that when the time is right.

If you have a copy of "Tommy O'Toole and Larry at the Fair" that you are finished with, I would love to swap with you.  Perhaps we can work something out using Bookmooch, where you can get points for listing the book for me to mooch!  Would highly appreciate it!


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