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Prepare for take-off;Children's Books

JETS AND JUMBO JETS. A amp; C Black pound;6.50 each. COLOUR JETS. Collins pound;3.50 each (pbk).

Series of illustrated stories for newly-independent readers are thick on the ground. But the jump between such books and longer novels, with print unbroken except by chapter breaks, is often too sudden.

Too many illustrated chapter books still assume the target audience is aged between six and eight, forgetting that a good few nine and 10-year-olds remain hooked on pictures.

Several factors explain the success of the Jets series, from A amp; C Black. The authors and illustrators are the best in the business. Integral illustrations contain speech bubbles that need to be read. The storylines, and especially the humour, could be appreciated by the eldest children in a primary school.

Colour Jets, a spin-off series from Collins, include the excellent Dear Alien by Angie Sage and Boys Are Us by Shoo Rayner. These books will make adults laugh as much as children, good news for teachers who share such books many times over.

Outwardly, Colour Jets make the hardback format still preferred by A amp; C Black for the main Jets series seem a trifle schoolroomy. But new Jets titles from Karen Wallace (Hiccup on the High Seas) and Chris Powling (Harry on Holiday), and a Jumbo Jet with the delightful title Dad's Dodgy Lodger from Philip Wooderson, are proof that a series launched 10 years ago still has air miles in hand.

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