Book post from publishers Barrington Stoke is always a treat and February got off to a good start when these two books arrived through my letter box. Both titles have a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock so that even more readers can enjoy them. They have been edited to a reading age of 8.
In my experience as a primary school librarian Barrington Stoke books have a very wide appeal being suitable for young readers who prefer a shorter less daunting looking story. Both these great books reviewed below are excellent examples.
Ellie and the Cat by Malorie Blackman illustrated by Matt Robertson
Ellie has gone to stay with her grandma while her Dad travels abroad on business yet again. She makes it very clear that she does not want to be there at all and her bad behaviour is driving poor grandma mad. Ellie is quite possibly the rudest, most objectionable child Grandma has ever met and eventually Grandma reaches breaking point and decides that it is time that Ellie learned a lesson. It is a lesson that Ellie will never forget.
Malorie Blackman’s comic tale with a gently told moral is a very enjoyable read that will appeal to boys and girls of about 7 or 8 plus. A winning combination of adventure, friendship and a little bit of magic plus engaging illustrations give this a wide appeal. At the start of the story Ellie is, to be frank, a total pain and well deserves the punishment she receives. However her behaviour, although not excusable, is perhaps a little understandable as she feels both unwanted and friendless and confused by the constant moving around. When Grandma teaches Ellie a lesson by swapping Ellie’s body with Jolly her cat Ellie has to work hard to prove that she can be good. Perhaps with the help of some new found friends Ellie will learn to mend her ways.
This lovely story will amuse and entertain children and maybe give them pause for thought too. Published January 2019
Toad Attack by Patrice Lawrence illustrated by Becka Moor
After a toad lands on his head as he leaves his house one morning, Leo is determined to find out where it has come from and why. When he discovers that his best friend Rosa has also seen a strange flying toad the two of them resolve to come up with some answers before the angry residents of Upper Dab take matters into their own hands and destroy the toads!
What a delight this story is! With teachers named Mr Pringle and Miss Quaver and a chapter titled A Toad Called Twerky it is full of humour that made me chuckle and the adventure has a sense of the ridiculous but with elements of everyday school life that children will recognise and relate to. Becka Moor’s distinctive illustrations add to the fun and this should engage even the most reluctant of readers. Another extremely important aspect of the book is the way in which a number of diverse and inclusive characters are introduced in an understated manner.
The wacky storyline of mysterious flying toads, an inter school garden competition, a bad tempered neighbour with a cat named Nigel and Leo’s family umbrella business combine to create an exciting and humorous story but one with friendship and tolerance at its heart. Another must have for primary school classrooms and libraries. Published March 2019.
Thank you to Kirstin Lamb and Barrington Stoke for providing these review copies.