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A writer in every class;Children's Books;Video

STORYBOOK TV. Video for pre-school and early primary, pound;14.99 excl VAT. Scottish Council for Educational Technology.

Children in Kilbowie primary are experienced critics of authors and their work, having enjoyed many visits from children's writers under the Writers in Scotland scheme. And like the scheme, this video is sponsored by the Scottish Arts Council.

Scoular Anderson, Mairi Hedderwick and Frank Rodgers have already given the school's children a glimpse into the magical world of the written word during several book weeks, and Debi Gliori is booked for September.

Making the link between author and audience is a crucial motivating factor in encouraging children to read. Children see that authors are "real" people - and the fact that these four authors also draw the pictures increases their street cred.

The video stories, introduced briefly by the author-illustrators, are the next best thing to an author visit. At the press of a button the teacher, nursery nurse, classroom assistant, parent or grandparent can transport the child into a different and exciting world.

The stories come alive through the imaginative use of voice and the skilful filming of the illustrations to create movement. The sense of pace is enhanced by John Cobban's music and the atmospheric sound effects. The linking footage, with clarinet and guitar music, is a delight.

A chronological list of contents and running times are included at the beginning of the video, but it would have been useful to publish them on the sleeve as well.

The adventures start with Debi Gliori's My Little Brother, the story of a girl who wishes her younger brother would disappear. But when she thinks he really is missing, and is relieved to find him safely cuddled up with their pet cat and new-born kittens, she realises she would miss him.

In The Bunk Bed Bus by Frank Rodgers, the captivated audience joins Janet, Sam and Grannie in their art exhibition triumph. This fast-moving and appealing story was a favourite in Kilbowie's Primary 1 and 3 classes.

Mairi Hedderwick brings colour to the oral and visual images in her tale, Oh no Peedie Peebles. Even on the first reading, the young audience joined in spontaneously with her refrain: "Oh no Peedie Peebles!".

And Never Keep a Python as a Pet, by Scoular Anderson, had a P3 class squealing with slightly scared delight at the chaos in Peter's life.

The beautifully rounded story, I Can't Get to Sleep, by Frank Rodgers is a real treat. The variety of tales told in turn by Mum, Dad, Gran and Grandpa held P2 spellbound.

There is an amazing illusion of animation throughout andthe children loved all thedifferent voices.

Words cannot reflect the richness of this resource, which is also good value for money - eight live books for a quarter of the price of the printed word.

Storybook TV is serious fun and should carry the health warning that children's enthusiastic pleas for just one more story may distort the balance of the curriculum.

Sheila Campbell is headteacher ofKilbowie primary, West Dunbartonshire. Copies of the video are available from the Scottish Council for Educational Technology, tel: 0141 337 5000

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