HarperCollins Children’s Books is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of our beloved BISCUIT series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli.
HarperCollins Children’s Books celebrates an incredible milestone this year—the 20th anniversary of the cherished book series Biscuit. With over 75 titles and over 21 million books in print in 5 different languages, Alyssa Satin Capucilli’s Biscuit series continues to mesmerize generations of readers. The idea of Biscuit was brought to HarperCollins in 1994 by Capucilli’s agent as a picture book, with illustrations by Pat Schories, but was soon reworked so that it could start the creation of a new section of the I Can Read! program, called Level 1 I Can Read! The first Biscuit book was published in 1996, and since then the franchise has helped over 20 million emergent children learn to read, and has over fifty books in circulation, including, Biscuit Finds a Friend, Bathtime for Biscuit, and Biscuit Builds a Treehouse. The series has since spawned picture books, board books, and novelty books, along with a new Level 1 I Can Read! book being released annually. Many fans have taken this small yellow puppy and his world into their hearts and their imaginations.
The idea for Capucilli’s children books came from personal experience, like so many great stories of the past. It was her daughter’s interaction while dog sitting a neighbor’s huge, rambunctious dog that ultimately lead her to write the first book. It was this inspiration as well as Capucilli’s drawing upon her childhood bond with literary characters, love of poetry, rhythm and music that crafted the world of Biscuit.
“Although there is much we hope to celebrate in the life of a young child, it is a particularly magical celebration when a child learns to read independently,” Capucilli explained in a personal letter. “Knowing that for the past twenty years, Biscuit has been even a small part of that lifelong celebration is humbling.”
Biscuit Feeds the Pets is a My First I Can Read book, which means it’s perfect for shared reading with a child.
I got the chance to read an essay that the author of Biscuit, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, composed regarding the 20th anniversary of her Biscuit series. She wrote of her love of the children’s book of A Child’s Garden Versus and how her love of language and reading from a very early age was what inspired her to write about Biscuit. It was one of the titles to first launch the I Can Read! series of books of the very special HarperCollins family to try and make an imprint on young children of the importance of literacy through titles that they could relate to, such as a sweet and sometimes clumsy little puppy named Biscuit. The one thing that stuck out to me, as a person who is an avid reader trying to instill the same love of reading to my two young girls was when Alyssa wrote about a letter (one of many) that she began receiving from young children as early as 1996 that paraphrased these very special words, “Biscuit is the first book I can read all by myself.” What a tremendous honor to be bestowed unto a children’s author. I imagine that you don’t become a children’s author for fame or glory, right? You do it to get kids reading. Biscuit has certainly done that for an entire generation and beyond since it’s very first book and I am happy to say that the latest Biscuit book in the I Can Read series is geared to the youngest level of readers; those that are becoming emergent readers.
As a reviewer of children’s books, it is not always easy to come up with an overview that captures the meaning of books in between the simple sentence structures and repeating words of a book geared towards a 3-7 year old. I’m in my thirties and here I spend half my work life trying to break down and analyze complex ideas into simple sentence structures and not the other way around as I do when thinking and writing of a children’s book. Writing about a little yellow dog who sweetly gets into trouble by helping his owner help feed her neighborhood pets doesn’t have an ulterior motive or hook beyond getting children interested in the story and beginning to capture their hearts of the world of a silly puppy. However, when I think about it on a deeper level, writing for children is an art that not only deals with stories children can relate to, the graphics have to appeal to them, and there is usually a humorous element to spark a child’s imagination so that when a little dog like Biscuit says, “Woof! Woof!” it can take on so many different meanings. There is an element of play, repetition, and memorization in reading that my children have found fascinating as we continue to come back to the same series of books over and over again. This carries through in life the same way it did for me as I devoured books like the Berenstain Bears to the Babysitters Club series, to my love of histories, biographies, and self-help books as an adult that all started when I was little.
Sure, I can tell you in greater detail how Biscuit Feeds The Pets is an energetic story about a little dog trying hard to help his owner do chores, but it’s more than that. It’s a ‘gateway’ book into the world of literature. It’s a healthy art form that parents should feel privileged sharing with their kids. To us, reading is not a homework assignment that we check off on a study list, it’s something we do because we love it. It’s a great way to look at any subject that we study in life and one that I happen to find enjoyable, but also one that takes simple concepts and ideas when I was young and made them more meaningful to the abstract as I got older. Reviewing children’s books is not always so simple. It takes a great writer to understand what draws a child into a book, but it takes a great teacher, parent, educator to draw the parallels to how that sticks with a child throughout their life. I didn’t envision that an I Can Read book about a little yellow dog could still be as relevant today as it was two decades ago, but that is where it has taken me. Kudos to writers who understand that every child that gets the opportunity to read simple, uncluttered, and unhurried books that make them feel proud to read, warm from its content, and laugh because they understand its humor is their first understanding that life’s little moments of quiet with the written world carries you far beyond the pages of a book. It carries you through this thing called life that makes you want to learn and share ideas with others. That, my friends, is beautiful. So read to your kids, read the same books over and over because they love them, and realize it is not a chore or a checklist, it is the start to teaching them that there are things bigger in life than what is in the pages of a book. It’s a whole new world that is theirs to understand, grow, and, yes, even analyze and teach as they get older. When a child says, “I Can Read”, it’s a moment to celebrate.
ABOUT ALYSSA SATIN CAPUCILLI: Alyssa Satin Capucilli is the author of the bestselling Biscuit books and many other beloved children’s books. She grew up in Brooklyn, where she fell in love with reading, stating that her weekly trip to the public library were much anticipated. Capucilli now resides in a book-filled home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York with her two children, Peter and Laura, her husband Bill, and of course the family dog, a lovable chocolate Labrador named Huckleberry, who she credits with being the inspiration for a lot of her work.
ABOUT HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS: HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s and teen books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless treasures and bestsellers such as Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are, The Graveyard Book and series including The Chronicles of Narnia, Ramona, Warriors, Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Divergent, and The Selection. Consistently at the forefront of digital innovation, HarperCollins Children’s Books delights readers through engaging storytelling in all formats, including e-books and apps. HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, which is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, has operations in 18 countries, and is a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV). You can visit HarperCollins Children’s Books at www.harpercollinschildrens.com and www.epicreads.com and HarperCollins Publishers at corporate.HC.com.
List Price: $ 16.99 (On sale through Amazon Prime for $13.55)