Striking it right Act One;All ages;Special needs;Books

3rd April 1998 at 01:00
ACT ONE. By Michael Coleman, Jacqui Farley, Susan Holliday, Ann Ruffell and Elaine Sishton. LDA pound;15.95.

These accessible plays have parts written at different reading levels. With reading ages of five to seven years and an interest level of nine to 12 years, the 10 plays comprise short scenes easily adapted to acting and or reading.

Occasionally an unlikely plot creaks. In "The Headteacher's Cupboard", for instance, the head's assignation with Mrs Green and the predictable solution to his suspected werewolf tendencies are laughable rather than comic.

On the other hand, the enduring literary appeal of food, a witch-like cook, anda magic lunch box make "School Dinners" compulsive reading.

Issues are well aired. In "Mandy's Walk", for instance, Mandy's handicapped sister benefits from the sponsorship only when Mandy surrenders all the money. Moreover, it is an Afro-Caribbean boy who pricks her conscience and both he and the handicapped girl have been the target of name-calling. Obviously, there is scope here for discussion.

Similarly, in "On Our Own" it takes pupil enterprise and a politically correct girl as the main striker to overcome the dubious refereeing of a football-hating headteacher.

Plots may be simplistic, the characters stereotypes, but the easy, natural rhythms of the dialogue will hold short attention spans and focus interest. Most importantly, these plays are good fun. Their photocopiable format certainly makes them excellent value for money.

Jill Pirrie is a former language adviser in a middle school in Suffolk

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