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Reviews from 4—7 years

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By Sarah Stevens — Primary teacher

From monkeys and mammoths to a midnight superhero, we review some great reads to get boys into books

Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer and Alex T Smith (Scholastic, ISBN 9781407105284)

Meet Eliot – by day he’s just a normal book-reading, goldfish-feeding little boy, but when the clock strikes midnight, Eliot is a superhero! Every night Eliot is called upon to use his superpowers to carry out various life-saving and world-saving acts in his very important role. The text is simply written, taking readers through each of Eliot’s escapades, whether it is retuning lions to the zoo, reuniting the Queen with the royal jewels or his most important mission ever – tackling a gigantic meteor on a collision course with Earth. The cleverly presented text and illustrations are full of energy and detail, bringing the story to life. Labels and descriptions, along with speech bubbles, add a comic book feeling to this book that children, especially boys, will think is just super!

It’s a George Thing! by David Bedford and Russell Julian (Egmont Press, ISBN 9781405228053)

George the zebra has two best friends, Peachy and Moon. Everyday George goes to play Big Ball (a Peachy thing) and Rocks (a Moon thing) with his friends. George isn’t really very good at these things, but when he hears Priscilla playing her guitar he begins to boogie and discovers that dancing is a George thing. This story is a great way of celebrating the fact that everyone is different, yet we can still join in with others. Without a doubt though, the best thing about this book is its beautiful illustrations that make it really unique. They are bright and colourful, yet also detailed, cleverly conveying each emotion. My class just wanted to spend more time absorbing the detail and remarking upon each page. The language is simple and clearly presented, and in the words of one young reader ‘The pictures are amazing’.

Monkey See, Monkey Do by Donough O’Malley (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, ISBN 9781845075965)

It’s the day of the rocket launch and Professor von Loop sets up challenges to help him decide who to send into space. Will it be Q-Bert the robot or Patrick the Monkey? The robot takes great delight in proving to the professor that he has more skill and so should fly the rocket into space. However, it is the monkey that shows true brains by escaping his guards and actually making his way to the rocket, which he blasts into space. The text is a great starting point for a class discussion about whether academic ability is really all that matters. One child in my class answered with ‘It just shows, you need common sense as well.’ The illustrations are bold and uncluttered by detail. They are simply drawn but quite effective. This proves to be an enjoyable read that makes an important point.

Mammoth Academy in Trouble by Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 9780340930304)

Nestled in between ‘The really really high mountains’ and ‘The almost impossible to cross glacier’ is Mammoth Academy. Students at the Academy are just returning to school after the holidays to discover graffiti on the walls. It can only mean one thing – humans! This book, aimed at independent young readers, contains nine chapters, each being fairly short in length. What drew my class’ attention to the book at first was the intriguing title and initial illustrations, introducing the main characters and showing Mammoth Academy on a map. The book tells the tale of the Mammoth Academy crew as they face the prospect of the appearance of humans, who are humorously depicted as dangerous beings that are to be kept well clear of. This is a really novel idea for a story and encourages the reader to see their own species in a way they would normally view a scary animal! There is plenty of humour, and the quirky illustrations really do add to the whole experience.

Visit our ‘Giveaways’ page for your chance to win some of the books featured in this review

Little Genius: Bones by Kate Lennard and Eivind Gulliksen (Red Fox, ISBN 9780099451631)

Little Genius is your guide through this wonderfully written information book all about bones. Each page focuses on a different part of the human skeleton and uses simple analogies to describe what the bones are like inside us, and what we would be like without them. Clear illustrations and explanations are used to support each point. The book also proves to be quite interactive, with some of the illustrations containing lift-the-flap elements to convey the skeletal structure of a human. Added to this, Little Genius asks the reader various related questions throughout the text, to make them discover the whereabouts of different bones. An idea that my class particularly enjoyed was the stickers supplied at the back of the book. It wasn’t apparent where these were supposed to be placed, but the children all enjoyed sticking them on themselves after reading the book. Bones encourages young children to take an interest in their own bodies and to ask and answer simple related questions… at £4.99 it’s great value for money!

Let’s Play Diggers by Alfie Clover, Sally Hopgood and Paul Dronsfield (Top That Publishing, ISBN 9781846666049)

Let’s Play Diggers is a fantastic idea for young children and is so much more than a book. It provides a simple story about diggers and lorries, but the best part is that it includes 2D magnets of the construction vehicles for the reader to use on each page. Plenty of room has been left within each illustration to place the magnetic pieces on the page, allowing the reader to act out the story in their own way. Children are therefore encouraged to use their own imagination to interpret each part of the story. It is ideal for children aged three to seven, working well with an older child to support the actual reading. The illustrations are bright and simple, yet inviting to the young reader. Rather helpfully, the magnetic pieces can then be retained safely after use, inside the book, cleverly disguised as the builders’ yard door. A great interactive book that would appeal to young boys.


  1. khadija fatima
    on 14 January 2013

    eliot jones

    eliot is so cool

    5out of 5


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