Children are a little like Pokemon; you may not be able to house them in a Pokeball, but they are always evolving. Your little kiddo may have spent the first couple of years or so intent to sit on your lap and listen to you read a story, but at some point they are going to want to read themselves. This is not the moment to lend them your copy of ‘‘Lord of the Rings’’ as their own first books will actually be simpler stories than the books that you have shared together. You need to know your ducks and your hats before you can tackle what on Earth a Gruffalo is.
‘‘Cool Duck and Lots of Hats’’ by Elizabeth Dale and Giusi Capizzi is part of the Early Reader series of books by Maverick Arts Publishing and comes under the simplest Pink Band. It actually contains two tales, one about a set of hot animals needing to cool down and one about a family with a series of increasingly large hats. Each tale spans around 10 pages and is less about the narrative and more about associating simple words and concepts.
If you remember the ‘‘Billy Blue-hat’’ and ‘‘Roger Red-hat’’ books, this is essentially a modern series like this, but the tales are a little more fun and less 70s. As a Pink Band book ‘‘Cool’’ offers the simplest form of reading. Each page may have four words on it e.g. the cat is hot, the duck is cool. These words are placed next to one of Capizzi illustrations that are a colourful interpretation of what the words are saying e.g. a picture of a hot looking cat!
The stories included are extremely basic, but for a reason; this book is meant as a very first reader. Connecting the concepts of the words with the images helps a child to understand – H, O, T means hot, like the cat in the picture. Although incredibly simple, Dale’s stories are also a little daft so they are still fun. Capizzi is able to capture this sense of lightness in the drawings. This makes a book that could have felt like my first academic text, actually feel like my first special book just for me.
For parents who are worried about how they can help their child develop their reading, Maverick have included a section for both stories about the book aims, what the important words are and the type of questions you may want to ask. All children will develop at different rates and the fact that all the Early Learner books are part of a staggered progression means that you can buy the book that suits your child. I can certainly recommend ‘‘Cool Cat and Lots of Hats’’ as a very first emerging reader book; it is simple, but also simply fun. Original review on thebookbag.co.uk