An excellent series of books that can support children learning to read in both an educational and home setting.
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. The range will reach 60 books this August covering the pink to purple bands and I had the pleasure of reviewing one new ‘yellow’ story and one ‘blue’ book, both released this month.
‘Yellow’ banded Who Will Win the Cup? by Elizabeth Dale and illustrated by Sophie Foster is a fun story of the battle for the football cup between the elephants and the rhinos. It’s hard work for the referee given the rhinos claim it’s not fair because the elephants are able to stop the ball with their extra long trunks. Soon, however, the elephants too will be complaining that the rhinos also have an unfair advantage.
Fairness is also a theme in the ‘blue’ reader book I read – King Carl and the Wish by Clare Helen Walsh and illustrated by Marina Pessarrodona. At the fun fair a small boy dressed as a King wins a wish at one of the stalls. The wizard in charge of the stall, however, becomes increasingly cross when Carl insists on asking for more than one wish. Fortunately, Carl finally comes up with the perfect solution.
While I haven’t seen the other books in the series, these two titles would suggest these books are perfect for beginning and aspiring readers. Although very simply told, each book has enough child interest in terms of content (e.g. wishes and football) to encourage children to pick them up. They are also well structured with a clear story goal and a satisfactory outcome at the end.
There is plenty of repetition of the words used without the stories feeling overly repetitious. This will enable children to become quickly familiar with the words and to rapidly move on from being supported by an adult or other fluent reader to being able to read the story for themselves. Added to this, the format of the series (particularly in terms of size and thickness) gives the impression of a more advanced book. This will appeal to early reader children who want to feel that they are really reading and will help build confidence, after all success breeds success.
The pictures are colourful and clear and I particularly liked the way they add another dimension to the story: in both books there are elements of the story that aren’t explained in the words. For example, the pictures in King Carl and the Wish clearly show the wizard’s mounting frustration with Carl while, in Who Will Win the Cup?, it doesn’t state what type of animal the referee is but this does appear in the questions at the back.
Both books include a short quiz at the end. These are well structured and will ensure the child has engaged and understood the story and the pictures – comprehension is, after all, an important part of learning to read.
Overall, judging on the quality of these two review copies, this looks like an excellent series of books that can support children learning to read in both an educational and home setting.