Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Small Readers: Baby Dolphin's First Day by Peter and Connie Roop

Nonfiction easy readers are a trend that I absolutely get behind. They're super popular with both kids and parents and introduce beginning readers to a wider range of books, rather than just the typical odd couple friendship fiction of traditional easy readers.

Peter and Connie Roop, who have been authoring beginning chapters and easy readers for years, have adapted quite well to the new, photograph-illustrated model of easy readers.

Each page is arranged in two horizontal blocks. The top shows a dolphin photograph, matched by the simple text against a white background on the bottom half of the spread. Each side of the page has 1-2 short sentences. There is a lot of unused white space around the text and I felt the font could have been larger, especially since this is supposed to be the easiest reader level (although it's not aimed at emergent readers). I did appreciate that the photographs were laid out in conjunction with the text, so when it says "The pod swims fast. The dolphins jump into the air." the reader sees a photo of leaping dolphins.

The only thing that gave me pause was that in some of the pictures it appeared to me that it was a different baby dolphin, almost as big as the mother, although it's supposed to be a story of a baby dolphin's first day. However, some of the photos were unclear due to the poor binding, which gobbled up a lot of the gutter of the images. There's a "meet the expert" section at the back, which must be meant to be read aloud or by the parents. It's not really clear exactly what part the "expert" plays in the book, but I think these readers from the American Museum of Natural History have various museum staff vet them for accuracy.

Verdict: This isn't as eye-catching as, say, National Geographic Readers, but they can be quite busy for a beginning reader who needs less distraction. Dolphins are a popular topic and this is a serviceable selection that's reasonably well-written and has nice photographs. Recommended if you are purchasing additional nonfiction easy readers.

ISBN: 9781402777844; Published 2011 by Sterling/Prebound by Penworthy; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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