This series of big books for key stage 1 comes in hanging packs with full-size acetate sheets for placing over the pages and dry-wipe marking. Such is the attention to detail, I half expected to be supplied with a pointer to follow the text.
The 41 titles are designed to be used twice in the key stage. The line-up of authors and illustrators includes Jeanne Willis, Tony Ross and Jan Pie+nkowski and the texts are of consistently high quality. I particularly enjoyed My House is Your House, which takes a "patterned and predictable story from another culture" and gives it a wonderful twist with a very modern punchline. Production values are first rate, the design imaginative and the series includes peephole books, lift-the-flap books and split-page books.
One excellent innovaton is the photocopiable "mini-book" for each text so every child can take home a miniature copy. Given the Kafkaesque bureaucracy over photocopying for the Literacy Hour, this is a bold, imaginative and welcome move.
The handbook is succinct and the teacher's guides and serviceable worksheets will save time on lesson plans. Better still are the activity cards based on learning through structured play. Remember play? And fun? This series does.
I did find some of the language potentially challenging for this age range, but the publishers claim that the structures and patterns in these stories will support children in rising to the challenge. Neither does the series provide any systematic programme for teaching phonics.
Those caveats aside, this scheme is likely to succeed because children are bound to find the books hugely enjoyable to read.