4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero by R.D. Base, illustrated by Debbie Hefke, is a wonderful and educational book for beginning readers. The author and illustrator utilize important techniques for primary reading instruction, including sight words, repetition, and excellent picture clues to help children recognize new vocabulary. I give Toni the Superhero 4 out of 4 stars as an engaging, modern early reading book.
I like the author’s use of the superhero theme, since children love superheroes and can relate to a character pretending to be one. The pictures show Toni dressed up as a superhero as he goes about his day, doing things that he likes to do, such as eating, reading, and playing. Kids love to play dress up and see other children in costume, so I feel this is a realistic choice that readers will identify with. The illustrations themselves are bright and fun to look at, while helping guide the reader to figure out words that are new to them. The representation of different skin colors on the children in the illustrations is fairly common in my experience, but since I know that such inclusion is not universal, I will mention and commend this fact. Also, the style of the drawings lets the reader know that this book is current.
The repetition of the phrase “Toni likes to…” will give new readers confidence to keep reading page after page, as they then attack and decode words like “rescue” and “sweep”. Use of common sight words is good practice for new readers, but can sometimes lead to very dry stories. The author has avoided that pitfall by integrating many common sight words with some more difficult words. Throughout the story, the illustrations provide help in figuring out these more challenging words in addition to adding visual interest for the reader.
In keeping with the superhero theme, Toni’s activities are positive examples for children: helping others, doing chores, staying physically active and eating healthy foods are all depicted with smiling faces in the pictures. Children are shown many aspects of a full life: responsibility, fun, service, exercise, and even rest.
Though Toni is very busy during his day, reading is the first activity highlighted, serving the purpose of the entire book, which is to encourage young people to read. This book provides a solid stepping stone on the path to reading for enjoyment. Its positive messages, paired with useful methods of reading instruction, make Toni the Superhero a super book!
Toni the Superhero
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