Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Small Readers: I wish I was an orca by Sandra Markle

I’m most familiar with Sandra Markle as the author of many excellent science books for middle grade readers, often for Lerner. So I was very interested when I saw she had written a series of easy readers under the label of Ranger Rick. Each of these books encourage readers to imagine they are an animal and then learn about how that animal lives.

This book focuses on orcas. Readers learn that orcas live in oceans, eat fish, seals, and whales, and their feeding habits differ from area to area. They live in pods and breathe air, and calves learn from their pod how to live as an orca. More facts about orcas are included on each page, along with photographs. On most spreads Ranger Rick, the raccoon, pops up to ask readers to imagine how they can relate to the orcas - what if their family had a special way of talking, what if they could see using echoes, etc. The final spread celebrates the reader and the orca’s special abilities.

Back matter includes additional facts about orcas, some activities for kids to try, a short glossary, and a link to a Ranger Rick website.

This is supposed to be a level 1 reader, “simple sentences for eager new readers,” but like most nonfiction titles actually is a much higher level, an M in the guided reading level system, due to the more specialized vocabulary. It’s also much more text-heavy than I usually see for beginning readers.

Verdict: If you are looking for more nonfiction easy readers for intermediate readers, this new series has proven to be a popular one in my library and will serve you well. The cartoon Ranger Rick was annoying to me, and I think few kids are famliiar with the logo anymore, but it’s not an integral part of the story.
ISBN: 9780062432087; Published 2017 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

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