An early reading scheme with strong story appeal that will inspire emerging readers to keep practising.
Maverick Early Readers are a bright and attractive collection of books for guided reading. Edited by a leading educational consultant, they are designed around the Institute of Education book banding system to make it easy to identify the reading difficulty based on the language style, layout and phonics.
Graded into ten colour-coded levels, I’ve previously had the pleasure of reviewing two books from the lower levels – one ‘yellow’ (level 3) and one ‘blue’ (level 4) – and was exceedingly impressed. (You can check out my review here). I was, therefore, intrigued to find out whether the books at the higher levels met the same standard and was delighted to find that they most definitely do.
Nanny Ninja (white – level 10) by Jenny Jinks and illustrated by Sean Longcroft is the story of a very special nanny. Ant thinks his nanny is boring because she’s constantly napping in her chair and always insists that he goes to bed ridiculously early. Then a strange noise wakes him in the night and he discovers nanny is really a secret crime-fighting night-time ninja.
Scary Scott (gold – level 9) by Katie Dale, illustrated by Irene Montano, tells the tale of a friendly ghost who hates the fact he scares people (although I rather like the way one of the pictures shows him frightening away a pair of burglars). Luckily, on Halloween night everyone assumes he’s a child and they let him join in all their games. Scott has tremendous fun but will they still be his friend when they find out the truth?
Jetpack Jelly (white – level 10) by Alice Hemming and illustrated by Emma Randall is a fantastic, if rather silly, sci-fi adventure. Stacey doesn’t know how she’s going to find time to deliver all the jellies that have been ordered from The Space Place Café. Luckily, her friend Timble builds her a jetpack. It seems like the perfect solution until Stacey gets tangled up in a washing line. How will she escape? Should she risk pressing the big red emergency button and what will happen if she does?
As you may have gathered from these brief summaries, all three books are based on very engaging concepts. They also have a strong structure with an immensely satisfying conclusion. (The twist at the end of Jetpack Jelly really made me smile). In place of the stilted language and contrived stories of many traditional early reading schemes, these are genuinely gripping and exciting stories that will provide a powerful incentive for young, and struggling, readers to find out what happens next.
The length of the stories has obviously been carefully considered and the division into chapters will help children feel they are reading a ‘grown up’ book. (Whilst also providing a suitable place to stop when reading a whole book in one go is too much of a challenge).
The pictures in all three books are clear and appealing, providing added enjoyment for emerging readers. I particularly liked the picture of Ant trapped in an overflowing dustbin in Nanny Ninja – especially the cute kitten balanced on his head!
Overall, reviewing these three books confirms my previous view that the ‘Maverick Early Readers’ scheme is a truly excellent series of books that can support children learning to read in both an educational and home setting.
You can find out more and a full list of the books on the dedicated website for this reading scheme: Maverick Early Readers.