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I bought this book a couple of years ago, when my oldest son was first starting to read. The main reason for buying this at the time, was as book to help develop my sons readings skills. I always ask my sons to help me choose their reading material, as I believe children will learn to read much easier if they really enjoy the books, and this was chosen because he did have an interest in Superman.
'T. Rex Trouble' is part of a graded reading programme from Random House called Step Into Reading. This is an American Programme, so is listed for American grades Preschool - Grade 1. This covers a pretty wide age range of 4-7. This level is intended for children who are just beginning to read on their own, and I would put this as perhaps a level 3 on Oxford Reading Tree levels, except that there are a number of very long words for the superheroes names and the dinosaurs. I have always thought words such "pteranodon" are a bit too long for children just beginning to read, but my son was already familiar with these from other dinosaur books. I suppose Superman is long, but easy to guess, and in fact longer words like this which combine two well known words and are easy to combine may help a child develop confidence for longer words. The only other difficult word in this , for a young reader is "valuables". The rest of the book is very easy to read. The text is over sized with one or two sentences per page in a clear black font, but this is printed on a blue back ground. At least the background is a solid colour though, and this did not give my son any problems.
The story is very simple, as this book only has 32 pages and a limited amount of text. In short, Lex Luther has invented a special foam, which brings dinosaur bones to life and he is invading the city with the help of his dinosaurs. Superman, Batman, the Flash and the Green Lantern all team up to save the day. This book is intended for very young children - so of course there is a very happy ending. The illustrations are a bit childish, especially if you are used to the DC Comics versions of these characters or modern graphic novels, but they are cute, colourful and well drawn.
I think my son was 5 when we bought this. He did really enjoy it for awhile, and I did find it very useful as a book for him to practice his newly emergent reading skills on. Funny enough though, he had no issue with super powers or a magic foam bringing to dinosaurs to life - but did clearly point out that triceratops would not have eaten meat. This was great for a short time, but he quickly moved on to more complex reading material, and this book was relegated to a back shelf.
My oldest is now age 7 and has again taken an interest in super heroes, but this time it is graphic novels. My youngest is age 3, and wants to do whatever his brother does, but often finds the graphic novels a bit over his head, so I brought down are old Step Into Reading Super Friends books. These have been a huge hit, and have now moved to the shelves near my bed - where all the favourite bedtime stories go.
As good as this book was for my oldest to learn to read from - I think it is even better as a story book for a younger child. The short simple text and bright colours keep a child's interest, and if you usually read a stack of 5-10 books for one child per night, a few short ones are always welcomed! But this would also be ideal for very young children who may not sit still for long stories - or very hurried parents. I also think a stack of these would be brilliant for a nursery as something to settle the children down with, or when there is just a short amount of time to kill before another activity begins.
This is clearly one of my 3 year olds favourite books at the moment, and we have read it so often he has memorised much of the text and pretends to read it himself. I think this does begin to develop future reading skills, even at such a young age though, as a child begins to associate the text with the words. This is one of those books where you can just see the child's imagination working, and he talk about what it would be like if there really were dinosaurs today - especially nice ones. Like most children, my son does really like dinosaurs too, so the combination of super heroes and dinosaurs was sure to get him interested. Although my 7 year old considers himself too old for these books now, he still makes quite a point of coming in and sitting beside us while I read them most of the time, so I think he still gets some pleasure from these books.
In retrospect, I wish I had bought this book sooner. I wish my oldest had been able to enjoy it as a story book first, since the lifespan of this as a learning to read book is fairly short. Of course having a younger child, this will get plenty of use again. I would still recommend this for children of 5-6, who are just learning to read, it only costs £2.52 new with free postage from Amazon, and at this price, I feel it is well worth the money to help a child's reading skills develop. Used copies are currently selling for more, but if you keep an eye out ( as I do) you can snap these up for as little as £1.39 delivered at times.
If your children are too young to start learning to read, I would not recommend waiting to buy this. I would suggest buying it for children as young as 3, possibly even younger if they already like super heroes, and just using as a story book until they are old enough to read it on their own.
(Dooyoo hs listed this as comic - but it is really a learn to read book or story book - anyone looking a proper comic or graphic novel will be sorely disappointed in this - but of course it is comic book characters)