Take a look at four books from Maverick’s Early Readers series
About the Early Readers Series
The Maverick Early Readers have been designed to fit with the Institute of Education book banding system. This grades books by their language style, layout, and phonics. Now, I have conflicting feelings about reading schemes. On the one hand, they do wonders in teaching children the nuts and bolts of language. On the other, I worry that readers are grading themselves too early. I have heard young readers refusing to pick books from lower bands because they believe they have graduated from those stories.
So why did I agree to review a reading scheme? The Early Readers series presents such attractive art, and such appealing stories, that I hope it will encourage readers to revisit their old favourites long after they have moved on in terms of language skill. These stories have heart and they have conflict. I also noticed that the banding is done subtly. There is one small symbol on the front cover, but otherwise it looks like a standard book.
My other thought was that many people have happy memories of reading schemes. Not everybody felt that pressure and celebrating the best of reading schemes is important. Do you have happy memories of a reading scheme? Have you tried the Early Readers? Let me know in the comments below.
Mole In Goal by Amanda Brandon. Illustrated by Giusi Capizzi
Mole loves to play football. With his big feet and his poor eyesight, he is not a very good player. Can Mole find a way to belong to a team?
This story is from the orange band which falls in the middle of the scheme. It has up to five sentences on a page with some short sections of dialogue. Sentence structure remains very simple with only one or two commas across the text.
The story shows that we all have different skills. There is space for everybody to join in.
King Pong by Clare Helen Walsh. Illustrated by Kelly Breemer
King Pong the gorilla is the bravest, strongest animal in the jungle. He is also the smelliest. The other animals back away when King Pong approaches. He hasn’t washed in a long time and it turns out he is afraid of water. Can the other animals help King Pong overcome his fear?
This book is in the gold band, which is one of the highest reading levels in the Early Reader series. It has two or three paragraphs on every page, with longer sections of dialogue than the shorter books.
The story itself will make readers laugh. Bad smells are a great way to get attention. Nobody wants to be stuck with a stink. The ending shows that we can all overcome our fears with the help of our friends.
Jetpack Jelly by Alice Hemming. Illustrated by Emma Randall.
Spacey Stacey has lots of jelly to deliver but she’s short on time. She is given a jetpack, with instructions to only press the red button in a total emergency. As everything comes up against Stacey, she wonders what will happen if she gives the button a push.
Jetpack Jelly is from the white band. This is the highest reading level in the scheme, with longer paragraphs and sentences, and lots of active verbs. The story is designed to look like a chapter book, with black and white illustrations.
There is plenty of humour in this story. What could go wrong delivering jelly with the help of a jetpack? It also shows us that it is alright to ask friends for help if we feel overwhelmed.
Pirate Parrot and the Knit-Wits by Steve Howson. Illustrated by Daniel Limon.
Jim Sqwakins the parrot and Clarence the ship’s cat are much braver than the pirates. They long for a real adventure. The only trouble is the pirates on board the ship are too busy knitting. Will Jim and his friends ever find a way to free themselves of these knit-wits and set off on their own adventures?
This story is from the white book band, which is the highest level in the Early Reader series. I was pleased to see colour illustrations. Black-and-white illustrations have their place too, but there shouldn’t be a dividing point at which colour illustrations stop.
Jim Sqwakins will win over readers because he is the fearless rebel which the pirates fail to be. Pirates are a staple of younger stories, and this twist on the story will cause lots of amusement.