Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Small Readers: Mr. Ball: An Egg-cellent adventure by Michael Townsend

A lot of publishers are jumping onto the "easy readers in comic format" with varying degrees of success. I've been skeptical about some of them, but they've turned out to be quite popular, and even more important, I've been finding parents slowly starting to be more willing to let their kids read them, so I'm looking for more in this genre.

This is from a new series, Jump-Into-Chapters that I thought I'd take a look at. The main character, Mr. Ball, is...a ball. He rather reminds me of the Mr. Happy etc. characters. In the introduction, we meet Mr. Ball and his cat, Ms. Kitty Cow, who goes crazy when she eats hot dogs. In the first chapter (part 1) Mr. Ball and his friends go to a circus and love it so much they decide to have their own circus - and Mr. Ball volunteers to tame a wild and scary animal! In part 2, he is trying to decide upon a big, fierce animal. His friends tell stories to dissuade him, but he chooses to take a Giant, Fire-Breathing Tweety Blob! The next two chapters involve Mr. Ball's attempts to tame and capture a Tweety Blob, his ignominious failure, and his friends' rescue. He thanks them all and decides to tame Ms. Kitty Cow to start with. A brief epilogue hints at more adventures of Mr. Ball to come.

The art has a light, cartoon touch. There are squiggly arrows showing where to begin each chapter and the movements and speech bubbles are large and exaggerated, helping beginning readers follow the story in both words and pictures. Lots of visual cues keep readers abreast of the story. The book itself is a slightly oversized, hardcover easy reader shape. It will stand out on the shelf, being a little larger and thicker, but not too noticeably.

Verdict: This was personally a little too silly for my tastes, but kids will gobble it up. It will be especially attractive to struggling readers who want a little more humor and action but aren't quite ready for chapters yet. A fun and popular addition to any easy reader section.

ISBN: 9781609054588; Published 2014 by Blue Apple Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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