CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 10 . . . . November 4, 2011
The Lost Broomstick is part of Crabtree's "Tadpole" series aimed at beginning readers, Kindergarten to grade 2. This title has a guided reading level of B. It is a 24 page book with a vocabulary list at beginning of the book, a 19 page story, a two page "Picture Puzzle" and a final page with the answers to the picture puzzle, some notes on the series, and a "Notes for Adults" section.
The story is about a witch, Tess, who loses her broomstick. The broomstick is found and lost first by Jack and then by Jill, before being found by Tess's cat, Cass, who returns it to her.
I have commented before on the quality of the illustrations in the "Tadpole" series, and this book is no exception. To be honest about it, I find the illustrations are often much better then the story. That is not to say that the story is bad, just that the illustrations are that good. I do have a bit of a quibble with the story illustration relationship this time, however. While I commented positively in another review on some misdirection provided by the illustrations in that book, it was because the misdirection added to the story. In this case, the misdirection, intentional or not, actually ends up providing what could be some false visual cues.
The story is fairly good as beginning readers go, and I like the inclusion of Jack and Jill, Ann Bryant's having a bit of fun with the story. However, Bryant does use a lot of different words to tell the story for this level of book. The word list provided at the start of the book lists 21 different words for a story that is 42 words long. That puts it at the difficult end of its guided reading level, although it is a much easier read then some of the other books in the "Tadpole" series.
From a technical standpoint, the text is clear and easy to follow and does match up well, with only a couple of exceptions, with what is portrayed in the illustrations. As a whole, The Lost Broomstick is well done, the illustrations are excellent, and the text, while not anything special, is okay.
It is clear that Crabtree is listening to educators in the development of this series, as evidenced by the inclusion of the word list and picture puzzle. The "Notes to Adults" section still suffers from an identity crisis, written as it is for both parents and education professionals. It was in this section that I discovered the existence of the word list at the start of the book. The 5 cm by 8 cm bubble containing the 21 words used in the story located under the bibliographic information on page 2 was missed in my initial readings. If Crabtree is still listening, it would be a good idea to increase the size of this feature and look at either changing the reading level or increasing the frequency of word repetition.
Beginning readers are a category of book that is difficult to do well, and Crabtree is obviously making an effort to add to the number of good books in this category. The Lost Broomstick isn't one of their best, but it is still pretty good.
Bruce Dyck is currently employed by his wife and two sons as a stay-at-home dad in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.