Best, C. (1999). Three cheers for Catherine the great! New York: DK Publishing, Inc.
Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! is a wonderful book about the close relationship between a little girl and her Russian grandmother. This story's setting is at the main character, Sara's house. Sara has a Russian grandmother named Ekaterina. When Ekaterina's three children were young, they came to America. An American man named her Catherine. In this story, Catherine's birthday is approaching. All her family, friends, and neighbors are planning her a party. A party that consists of no presents, based on Catherine's request. Her family, friends, and neighbors are trying to come up with the very BEST "no presents" for her. Everyone comes up with their "no gift" so fast, but Sara has a hard time deciding what she should get her special grandmother. She finally makes her decision and is so excited for the arrival of the party. To find out what types of presents Catherine received and how she felt about the "no gifts," you'll have to read the book!
The illlustrations in this trade book compliment the story very well. The colors are very bright and vivid, which helps add to the happiness of the characters happy moods in the story. The media of the illustrations appear to be done in watercolor paint. The artistic style would be cartoon art. Best uses a lot of imagery in this book. Dancing, singing, eating, and cooking are some of the verbs that are present in this book. As these things occur, the reader can almost hear the singing and smell the food that is being made. This story is written in first person point of view. The narrator is part of the story and there is a use of the words we and I. Poetry is used a couple of times in this story and in both poems, the words rhyme. A couple lines in the poem are "If she invites you, Don't ever come late. You'll miss having blintzes with Catherine the Great!" Onomatopoeia is used once in the story with the use of the word "Woof!," when Nelly, the dog, barks.
This book would be a good way to introduce poetry to students. After reading Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! they would see that rhyme is used in the poems. Now that I've read this book, I would definitely recommend it to other teachers and students. It's a great book about the loyalty of family, and teaches students that gifts of love can mean more than materialistic gifts.
BIG questions - Why was Catherine the Great happy with "no presents?" How would you feel if you feel if someone gave you gifts of love rather than materialistic gifts? Have you ever received gifts like Catherine the Great received?