4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero is written by R.D. Base and illustrated by Debbie Hefke. It is not a story book, so if you are looking for a story with a traditional plot line to read aloud to your child, this book is probably is not for you. If you are a parent or educator working with one or more young children on early reading skills, this book could be a very good choice.
The book introduces Toni to an intended audience of very young children who are just starting to learn to read. Although Toni is a superhero, he also likes to do normal things which every child will be able to relate to. Each page consists of a simple sentence about something Toni likes to do, and an illustration showing Toni doing the activity mentioned in the sentence. Many of the sentences start “Toni likes to…” and this repetition helps to stimulate word recognition. The clear and colourful illustrations can help children figure out any activity words they don’t recognize.
I really liked how accessible the Toni character is to any child in the target age range of children aged 5 and under. Children who meet Toni through this book will be able to identify a number of activities they like in common with him. As this is the first book in a series about the same character, the fact that they have met and relate to Toni is likely to be a powerful motivator to read subsequent books in the series. It is really important to generate this kind of interest in books and reading in young children, especially if they are reluctant readers.
I read the book aloud to my daughter, and she commented on the things Toni likes to do that she also likes. Then I asked her to read it to me, and she did. A potential drawback I noticed when my daughter read it to me was that because the sentences were simple and repetitive, and because the illustrations provided rich visual prompts, she “read” it to me mostly by using a combination of memory and describing the activity in the picture, rather than by focusing on the words on the page. As a result, she did not have to work very hard at recognizing known words or at sounding out words she did not recognize. That said, this book could be very motivating for a child who is just beginning to recognize some of the key words in the sentences. A child who is just beginning to read known words independently will easily be able to read this book for him or herself.
The book is professionally presented. There were no errors, and the sentences were well placed in and around the illustrations. This gave me the impression that the book had been professionally proofread, edited, and designed. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because I think it is a very well made book which is likely to achieve its aim of helping children to learn to read for themselves. I would recommend it to anyone who reads to and with very young children, especially if those children are into superheroes.
Toni the Superhero
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