Featured Friday: The Issy Books by Pat Calfee | Jo Linsdell

Featured Friday: The Issy Books by Pat Calfee

 Title: The Issy Books: set one, set two and set three

Set one: Mattie and Miss Rat, A Bug Named Lady, Snappy the Crab, Lizzie the Lizard, and Webster the Spider.

Set two: Jimmy the Giraffe, Oscar the Octopus, Harry the Hippo, What Can Bam Bam Do?, and Flossie the Flamingo.

Set three includes all 10 books

Author: Pat Calfee


Set one: ISBN-10: 1938406133
ISBN-13: 978-1938406133
Set two: ISBN-10: 1938406141
ISBN-13: 978-1938406140
Set three: ISBN-10: 193840615X
ISBN-13: 978-1938406157

Purchasing links:

Book blurb:
The "Issy Books" are a set of 11 books written for "emerging readers"—children just learning how to read. The books are unique in that all of the illustrations come from the imagination of five-year-old Isybilla Gee. Her grandmother, reading specialist Pat Calfee, writes the Issy Books.

Using sight words, controlled vocabulary, and illustrations to support the beginning-level stories, the Issy Books are specifically designed to engage young minds in reading. Picture clues and predictable text help early readers gain confidence in their new reading skills.

Author bio:
Pat Calfee is an educational consultant with 25 years experience as a teacher, curriculum coordinator, and Staff developer.  Before retiring from public education, Pat taught 2nd and/or 3rd grade for 15 years. She also worked for 2 years for North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction as a State Assistance Team Member. Over the past 8 years, Pat worked with Beaufort County Schools in North Carolina in various capacities such as Curriculum Specialist/Staff Development Coordinator and most recently as the K-5 curriculum coordinator.

Anyone who knows Pat will tell you that teaching is in her heart. She has a passion for helping teachers at all levels discover new and innovative ways to deliver instruction. In addition, Pat is a wife, mother and grandmother to three beautiful granddaughters! She enjoys spending time with her family on the Pamlico River in North Carolina. Her inner child is in full force when she is with her grandchildren.  They love swimming, riding bikes, painting and reading books!

Born with a passion for art much like her mother, five-year-old Isybilla Gee started drawing and painting as soon as she could hold a paintbrush. Like the children who read the Issy Books, Issy herself is just learning to read, and her ever-present optimism and delightfulness shines through her art in surprising and colorful ways.

Issy draws and paints from her imagination, but also from life, using animals, flowers and the world around her as reference.Her grandmother, Patricia Calfee—whom she affectionately refers to as "Gigi"—writes the stories that Issy illustrates.  Issy also enjoys swimming, gymnastics and playing with her little sister, Sophie. She lives in Washington, NC, with her mom, dad, and sister.

Author website:

Mini Interview:

Why did you write this book?
As a lifelong educator, becoming a grandmother was one of the most exciting events in my entire life.  I could not wait to do all of the fun things to “stimulate” their little minds. The fun times just kept getting better and better. We spent our time together reading books, playing with play dough, singing songs, dancing, coloring and painting.   Becoming a “Gigi” was the best thing ever!
One of my granddaughters, Isybilla, displayed a unique gift for drawing from a very early age. She loved drawing and painting and would create drawings way beyond her years. Everyone was always amazed at the paintings that Issy would create with very little effort. Issy wanted to draw all the time and would always proudly present members of the family with her treasures as personal gifts. She was a born artist and we all knew it!

My daughter suggested that I use my background as a primary teacher and reading specialist to write books for Issy to illustrate. This sounded like a great idea….and this is where the adventure began!

First, Issy made a list of animal characters that she wanted to draw and even included their sassy names.  She named Flossie the Flamingo, Webster the Spider, Snappy the Crab and her own Boston Terrier, Bam Bam, plus many more! In all, I wrote and she illustrated ten stories about characters straight from her imagination!
Powerful Motivators for Reading 

As we started putting the stories and the illustrations together, we saw that we really had created something very powerful. The stories were perfect for beginning readers with controlled vocabulary and the use of sight words. The illustrations were perfect to lead young readers as they used “picture clues.” And we knew that beginning readers would love the colorful illustrations that were obviously created by someone their own age. What better way to get beginning readers motivated to practice reading!

Of course we loved the books ourselves, but it was only when others began sharing their stories with us that we realized how amazing they really are. Just a few days ago I was contacted by one of my friends, a retired elementary educator, after she received a full set of The Issy Books and shared them with her two grandchildren.  She told us how excited her kindergarten grandson was to have “just right” books to read.  He reads the books to his little sister and is so proud. My friend told me how both children loved the stories, the animal characters and most of all… the pictures!  He is so amazed that someone his age drew the illustrations. Her grandson wants to read the books over and over, and his little sister wants to hear the books read over and over! I then realized just how powerful these little books are in the small hands of beginning readers.