Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Small Readers: Fun with Ed and Fred; Gran on a fan by Kevin Bolger, illustrated by Ben Hodson

I’ve been looking for more fun, low level easy readers. I’m pretty much always looking for these elusive items. I don’t know how I missed this series by Kevin Bolger, author of the popular Zombiekins (whatever happened to the promised sequel to that anyways?), but I’ve just discovered these and they look awesome.

Fun with Ed and Fred focuses on sight words. The end pages list the books on a pseudo-blackboard with a peppy older lady in a purple dress and red glasses and a classroom that includes a blonde girl, a monkey in a baby bonnet, purple sheep, orange dinosaur?, magenta creature, and a bear in a striped shirt and beanie. Bolger, who is apparently a reading specialist (I didn’t know that!) explains why children need sight words and then the adventures of Ed and Fred begin. Ed is the orange dinosaur and Fred is the magenta creature.

Ed is shown in various fun situations, at the beach, riding a horse, driving a fancy car, while Fred is increasingly unhappy with his own situation. When Ed gets a cute little dog, a huge monster dog grabs Fred. The situations get more and more crazy, with tornadoes, meteorites, and finally a monster. Luckily, Fred, much the worse for wear, has found a hiding place. Between two mattresses. Uh-oh. Those aren’t mattresses…. The story ends with Fred fleeing from a monster and some more sight words for readers to practice.

Gran on a Fan focuses on short vowels. The end papers show some of the short vowels included in a picture with sky-writing clues being followed by a police dog, all leading to a little house… inside of which, on the title page, shows Gran (the purple-dressed lady from Fun with Ed and Fred) spinning frantically on her fan. The story, which is really more of a series of cartoons, shows a variety of creatures in a variety of crazy adventures. Gran spins on her fan, pets zoom around in jets (and crash into the ocean then end up at the vet), Nell falls down the well, Pop runs a race (and accidentally gets arrested instead of a mob, who gets arrested by the police dog), and so on. Each short story notes at the top which sound it is emphasizing and at the end of the book all of the words are repeated and divided up into their sounds.

Ben Hodson’s cheerful cartoons really make the story; the smug Ed, outraged Fred, wacky animals, indignant Nell, and crazy situations, all pop off the page in color and comic style, with the occasional speech bubble. Readers familiar with Canadian cartoons may recognize the colorists’ name, Jo Rioux, as the creator of some excellent comics of her own (incidentally, I also have kids still wanting the next book in the Golden Twin series, which never went past book one!).

Verdict: While a little older, these books are still great choices and sure to tickle the funny bone of fans of Elephant and Piggie, Toon, and Ethan Long. Recommended.
Gran on a fan
ISBN: 9780062285966; Published 2015 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

Fun with Ed and Fred
ISBN: 9780062286000; Published 2016 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

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