Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 22 Dec 2021

Maverick Chapter Readers Lime Band, Level 11

As ever, this innovative publisher has produced more thought-provoking chapter books to challenge well-established readers who are familiar with a short chapter format. Exciting illustrations are always integral to making books for this age group engaging and memorable, so it is good to see that these are peppered throughout. Let me tell you about two of my favourites. 

Invisible Ivan by Katie Dale, illustrated by Max Rambaldi

I wonder how many children dream of becoming invisible and getting up to some mischief? At first, Ivan is thrilled when his rather forgetful Great-Aunt Polly who is looking after him, shows him how to make invisible ink but when he spills it on himself, he soon starts to feel worried. The two of them have some fun at first even surprising his mum on her return when he mysteriously removes her scarf several times. Mum is cross with herself for trusting her son to the care of a very forgetful old woman who doesn’t seem to know where Ivan has got to. Luckily for everyone concerned, it seems that grape juice is the antidote to invisibility and once he is visible again it soon becomes obvious that all the supposedly ‘lost ‘ items have been buried by her dog, Geronimo.  It seems that this might be attention seeking behaviour because he isn’t getting enough exercise. The whole family needs to come up with a workable solution to the problem.

This story might encourage readers to experiment with using invisible ink, but is about much more than this. The discussion points at the end of the book encourage them to think about why ‘things aren’t what they seem’ and to think about what happens after the end of the story.

The Fossil Hunters by Cath Jones, illustrated by Juanbjuan Oliver

Inspired by her Gran, Pearl is keen to realise her dream of becoming a fossil hunter when she grows up. Unfortunately, this is not an interest shared by her classmates at her new school and she finds it hard to make friends. At the weekend her Gran takes her on a wonderful fossil hunting trip to the beach with her very own backpack full of tools for the job.  As every fossil hunter knows, it is hard and often tedious work looking for items of interest, but Pearl finds a huge ammonite that is ‘bigger than a car tyre’!  When the local newspaper publishes a photo of her find on the front page , her school friends are impressed.  She starts to educate them all about her favourite subject and they start to organise a ’ Fossil Hunters Club’. Clubs need equipment and funding and I love how (in children’s book world at least), the school finds a way to make this happen.

I hope that this story might inspire some clubs in real world schools and the discussion points also cover questions of confidence and anxieties about starting at a new school.

Strongly recommended for children at home and school who enjoy interesting stories.

Karen Argent

December 2021