CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 13. . . .November 30, 2012
The Ant and the Grasshopper is part of Crabtree Publishing's "Tadpoles Tales" easy reader series. A straightforward retelling of one of Aesop's better-known fables, the story is designed to be accessible for emergent readers. On that count, it succeeds: the words are simple to decode; the story matches the pictures; and the font is large and clear. Children who are just learning to read independently will be able to succeed at finishing this book.
On all other counts, however, this is not a recommended easy reader. The illustrations are very cartoony and look sloppy. Even on the glossy (presumably high-quality) paper, they appear pixelated and blurred, as if they have not been printed correctly. Very little care has been taken to make the illustrations detailed or engaging. Likewise, Marwood's text is very dry and basic. Writing an easy reader does not preclude literary merit: take a look at any of Mo Willems' or James Marshall's wildly popular easy readers, and it's clear that the genre can – and should – have some verve. This is just bland. The publisher's decision, moreover, to include "fun" games and comprehension activities on the final pages is unnecessary. Easy readers should make reading meaningful and fun for kids – they should not make reading seem like work. New readers will soon enough be answering endless comprehension questions in school; they do not need them built into a story book.
Elizabeth Walker is a teacher-librarian in Vancouver, BC.
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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.