Collins Big Cat Graded readers for seven-plus

16th February 2007 at 00:00
Huw Thomas on keeping readers enthused through upper primary

Collins Big Cat Graded readers for seven-plus. Various titles and authors. Collins Education. www.collinsbigcat.com

Individual readers pound;3.99 to pound;4.75 Assessment and support book pound;35. Evaluation pack pound;80 (12 readers, assessment and support book and course guide)

Though structured with the progression and security of a reading scheme, the Big Cat readers are books that stand as good titles in their own right.

Collins' latest offering consists of 40 titles for key stage 2.

The line-up of authors is impressive, with contributions from established writers such as Margaret Mahy and Jeremy Strong. Margaret Mahy's The Gargling Gorilla follows in the vein of her short stories. It's a cleverly worked, absurd scenario, with a laugh-aloud joke.

Subject matter is well matched to the interests and curriculum of primary children. What Happened to the Dinosaurs?, a well illustrated consideration of the question posed in the title, combines with titles such as Football Spy, How to be a Tudor in 20 Easy Stages and The Monster Joke Book, to create a primary class library.

Shoo Rayner's joke book mixes joke styles, while Scoular Anderson's Tudor book is in the Horrible Histories tradition. Worth a mention in the 200th year since the abolition of the slave trade is Paul Thomas's Olaudah Equiano: From Slavery to Freedom, a thoughtful retelling of the life of the former slave and campaigner.

These books have child appeal within a well-structured scheme, complete with banding and notes for guided reading. One omission: with such high quality authors, I would have liked an "About the author" note somewhere in each book.

Huw Thomas is head of Emmaus Primary, Sheffield

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