“ Paperback: 56 pages / Publisher: Collins Educational / Published: 28 Aug 2012 „
My son is not dyslexic, nor is he a reluctant reader, so it would be fair enough to wonder why I am willing to pay the extra money for specialist reading material created especially for children with reading disabilities. You do pay a bit extra for these books. This book sells for £5.99 new from Amazon and it is 56 pages. Used copies are only a few pence less.
I buy these books for a few reasons. The first is simple my son loves them. He is only eight years old but he really enjoys stories written for much older children. The problem is, he has difficulty with visualisation and simply can not immerse himself in a story as well without seeing some sort of illustration. This is very common in boys and one of the reasons many boys lose interest in books once they outgrow picture books. On the rare occasions where he has really taken to a series without pictures, I have always read at least one of the books to him, adding what I call audio description to the story, describing what everything looks like in detail. The illustrations in this book are outstanding, They are dark, sometimes violent and could be taken as frightening, but that suits the story very well.
The story itself in this book is excellent. I feel like I am selling this book short with five stars. It is a very short story, as is necessary for an illustrated book with this type of print and only 56 pages. This is a very fast moving book. It begins with young Danny being tormented by a gang of bullies. We are never given Danny's exact age, but I would guess him to be between 16 -18. Too badly outnumbered to defend himself, Danny is forced to run, but soon something more frightening than gang members is on his heels. Danny is being pursued by a beast that should not exist in Britain - a wolf. He is knocked to the ground and bitten, but thankfully he has a can of pepper spray his mother bought after several people had gone missing in the area. He is able to fend off the attack, but his nightmare is just beginning.
The story is expertly written, and as I read this myself, I could easily feel as if I knew the character's feelings and motivations, even though this is a very short book. My son also quite liked this character. The book is tense and full of action, but also allows a real depth of emotion as well as tackling a few moral issues. At age 8, my son loved this story, but I do feel the primary audience would be ages 14 -18. As an adult I enjoyed it myself, but it was finished all too quickly.
This book is written for reluctant readers or children with difficulties in reading. The story is designed to appeal to much older children, while the reading level is still very easy. This is listed an a reading level of age 8, but I would place younger. My son first read this book at age 7 and found it a very easy read. The text is all in a very standard font with large clear print. It is double spaced with short easy to read paragraphs and very short paragraphs. It is printed on bright white paper, where an off white is preferred for children with dyslexia, but other than that this book is perfect for children with dyslexia or other reading difficulties. The paper is thick enough to prevent text from showing through from the other page, and although this is a slightly glossy paper to allow for the highest quality of illustration, I was not able to pick up any glare whatsoever.
Although my son does read well for his age, he has commented that this style of print makes books much easier to read. This is especially true if he reads out loud. This style of print gives him the confidence to read in a loud clear voice with plenty of intonation as he really get into the story without worrying about losing his place. I selected one of these books for him to read for his annual evaluation with the school board and the results were smashing. While he may only need the extra confidence when reading out loud for an audience, many children who struggle with reading desperately need this extra confidence for everyday reading. This type of print really does help remove barriers to literacy and make reading a fun activity.
This series is produced for the educational market. As such it does have questions and activities at the back designed to be use in a classroom setting. As a home educator, I find this a wonderful addition, and I would highly recommend the book for other home educating families. I can't recommend this highly enough for a child with delayed reading or reading difficulties, but I would also recommend this for any child who enjoys a good scary story. I would like to make very clear though, the target audience for this book is teenagers. There is violence, and even death and the pictures do show a fair amount of blood made all the more shocking by the fact the illustrations are completely in black and white except for shades of red which really do look just the right colour for blood.
My son says this book is very good because it is very easy to read, and the pictures are great. he likes that the book has a kind of scary story, and there are no boring parts to the book. He did wish the story were longer and he thinks this book would be much better if it were part of a series and we could read what happens to Danny next.
I feel that my son has touched on both the strengths and weaknesses of this book very well. It is an excellent book, but it leaves the reader really wanting more. I can't see why this publisher has not given us a sequel, or better yet, a whole series. I have read other reviews of this book, and this book has made so many children who do not like books want to read more. I would be over the moon to be able to buy a new volume in a series with this character every month and can not think of anything that would help children struggling with literacy more. Once a child has found a book has really hooked a child on reading - it seems a terrible shame to just leave them with nothing else like this to continue their interest.