Children's fiction

6th June 2003 at 01:00

Michael Morpurgo (KS2) By Sally Wilkinson

David McKee (KS1) By Sally Elding

David Fulton pound;15 each

Michael Thorn reviews materials that develop primary writing and reading skills

Here are three study booklets designed to help primary teachers plan focused sessions on the work of classic and contemporary authors - just what many are looking for, since it is difficult for even ardent and informed readers of children's literature to get their heads round a body of work by a single author in order to help children in Year 4, say, "make comparisons and identify familiar features of the writer's work". But there are far too many flaws. The "map of contents" at the start of each booklet is useless as a means of navigating around the pages. The biographical information in two of the titles is perfunctory. Website addresses suggested for supplementary background material on E. Nesbit are either out-of-date or erroneously printed.

The biography of David McKee is taken word-for-word from the Andersen Press website. A photocopiable worksheet of website activities then asks children questions which cannot be answered using either the address or the "official site for Eric Carle", as illustrated. Goodness knows why this site is there - perhaps Carle is a future subject.

As literary criticism, the booklets leave a lot to be desired. "Morpurgo's stories have a strong narrative drive that give them pace and keep the reader hooked." Not only is that bland, it has wrong subject-verb correspondence.

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