Tag Archives: beginning readers

Early Readers – Anakin in Action!

Anakin and his student Ahsoka are on a mission. They need to rescue Rotta, the baby Hutt. But enemy droids and the evil Ventress will do anything to stop the Jedi. Can they manage to escape and save baby Rotta?

This is a DK Readers Level 2 book, intended for children “beginning to read alone.” There are three or four sentences on each page. Every page is illustrated with what look like screen captures from the television show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Most pages also have small information boxes that give one or two sentences of information about a specific topic, such as droid soldiers or Jedi Knights.

As a librarian, I can attest to the fact that young boys LOVE Star Wars. Turning the Star Wars adventures into early readers is a brilliant move. (Turning them into early chapter books for second and third graders is just as canny and money-making, I’m sure.) While this series is not the ultimate in carefully crafted text, it more than supplies its intended purpose, which is to get beginning readers excited to pounce into a book. While there are some words or vowel/consonant pairs that might be a bit difficult for an early reader, presumably the target audience will already be familiar with words like Ahsoka or droid or rancor.

I’ve stocked up on as many books from this series of Star Wars early readers as I could get my hands on. As I was pulling the new books out of the box I practically started a riot as a couple of first grade boys caught sight of what I was unpacking and immediately started laying claim to “first dibs” on the various books. So while it may not be likely to win a Geisel award, it will win you a zillion and one “cool” points if you put this book into the hands of your favorite Star Wars-loving first grader.


Easy Reader – Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day

Wagner is not having a good day. First he is late for school, then it turns out to be April Fool’s Day. Everyone else thinks the pranks are hilarious, but gullible Wagner isn’t laughing. His day gets worse when Pearl doesn’t want to be his partner in gym. When Wagner gets sent to the nurse’s office, he comes back with bright green dots all over his body, making the rest of the class very nervous. But Wagner gets to have the last laugh in this early reader.

This book is a Dial Easy-to-Read Level 2 book intended to be a “reading together” book. There are four to six sentences on each page and illustrations on each page. Contractions and dialogue are both used. The story is both cute and plausible.

The illustrations, done in pen, ink, watercolor and colored pencils, are pleasing and amusing. Some pictures have backgrounds, but many are displayed against a white backdrop. The body language of the animals is very clear, and the expressions on their faces are priceless. This book will be an excellent choice for more confident beginning readers, whether or not the month is April.

Early Readers – Lulu and the Witch Baby

Lulu Witch does not like Witch Baby. Witch Baby takes all of attention and messes up Lulu’s things. So one day while Mama Witch is away at the market, Lulu decides to try casting a spell on the Witch Baby. It appears that the spell is successful, and at first Lulu is jubilant. But then she starts to feel bad about how much Mama Witch will be upset. She tries to reverse the spell. Can she do it?

This I Can Read book appears to be aimed at more advanced beginning readers. The 5-8 sentences on most pages. There are often two-page sections where one page has a picture while the other page is filled completely with text, although most pages have both text and a picture. No contractions are used.The illustrations are well suited to the story. The facial expressions clearly display Lulu’s quick travel through various emotions, and the Witch Baby is just the right balance of wicked baby and adorable baby.

The story is cute, and addresses jealousy issues that many children feel. I think Lulu’s emotional reactions to the Witch Baby, and her subsequent actions appeal to children. Some parents may take issue with the fact that Lulu says she “hates” the baby or that later she justifies not telling her mother that the baby was lost because it was “not really the truth. But it was not really a lie.” This is a situation many children have already experienced however, and those children will surely love this story.

Early Reader – Baseball Ballerina

A little girl I’m going to call Kate loves baseball more than anything. But her mother wants her to be more girly, so she signs Kate up for baseball. Mary Anne – another baseball player, has also been signed up for ballet lessons, and at first the two girls commiserate with one another. But when Mary Anne is chosen to be the Dandelion Queen in the big recital, it seems to Kate that Mary Anne is starting to – gasp! – like ballet. All Kate can think about is what the boys on the baseball team will think when they find out she’s also a ballerina.

This is a Step Into Reading Step 2 book. Most pages have 3-4 sentences. There are three “chapters”, each one a few pages long. The pictures are colorful and support the text, appearing sometimes as figures against a white backdrop, and sometimes with colored backgrounds.

The implied gender roles – “Mom thinks baseball is for girls” – are subverted by Kate’s obvious love of baseball and distaste for ballet. While her either/or attitude might be a little disheartening, it’s also entirely realistic, and Mary Anne provides a character who is equally happy on the baseball field and at the ballet recital.

Early Readers – Ducks in Muck

Ducks are happily playing in muck when trucks come by and cage them. But all is not lost: the trucks get stuck in the muck, and more ducks unlock the doors on the cages. All ends well for the ducks.

This is an Early Step Into Reading book. The reading level is extremely simple. There are rarely more than six words on a page, and quite often there are only one or two words on each page. Other than the words “more, in, good-bye, what” every word ends in “uck” Almost all of the sentences are incomplete, obviously done consciously to make the text simpler. The text is black, and superimposed over the colored background.

The illustrations are very bright, done in a broad style. Because the text is so very simple, the illustrations carry much of the plot forward. For instance, the statement “Ducks in trucks” does not carry much information; it is the picture of a man putting unhappy-looking ducks into cages in the trucks that tells the real story. While the body language of the ducks is not very clear (a wide open beak appears to signify both anger and delight), the body language of the humans in the story is very expressive.

Early Reader – Tail of Little Skunk

Little Skunk is worried about Big Bear. All of his friends have a plan to escape – fly high, swim far, run fast. But Little Skunk knows that he cannot do any of these things. His mother assures him: when Big Bear comes, Little Skunk will know just exactly what to do. Of course, the next day, Big Bear shows up, and Little Skunk does what skunks do best, sending the bear running.

This book is “Mile 2” in the “Road to Reading” series. It is labeled “Reading with Help.” There are two-three sentences on each page. Most of the words are simple and short. There are few repeated phrases. The font is black on the colored background.

The illustrations by Michael Terry are colorful. They are mostly realistically done, showing animals in their natural environment. Although the character’s eyes are slightly larger and more cartoony than a real animals would be (as is common with children’s illustrations), the rest of the picture sticks to a natural look and feel. The pictures complement author Marsha Diane Arnold’s text, reflecting what is happening in the story.

(Note: If you are trying to find this book through the CLAMS library catalog, it is listed as Tail of the Skunk, instead of Tail of Little Skunk.)