Sandcastle is part of the Project X buildings cluster ( Book band Purple - level 8). These books are carefully leveled to allow just the right level of difficulty and help children learn to read. They are also carefully developed to make boys want to read.
This story features Max and Tiger two of the Project X Micro kids the series is based on four children with special watches which allow them to shrink to micro sized, or in a a few cases allow things to become gigantic). Max's younger sister Molly also plays a significant part in this story. The story begins when Molly builds a spectacular sand castle, complete with ramparts, a moat, and an arched bridge. The walls of the castle were decorated with seashells and a flag flew from one of the towers. Now what child with the ability to become just the right size to play in this castle could resist? The boys quickly activate their watches, and race over the bridge. The real adventure begins though when Molly returns with water to fill the moat, and along with the water, a medium sized crab, which does not look so medium sized when you are only 6" tall.
Of course the main reason for purchasing this book is to help develop my son's reading ability. I like the fact that each cluster of books in this series builds on the last, introducing a few more difficult words, while most of the text is easily decodable for a child who has been reading through the series. But what sets these apart from most reading primers is that they also make excellent storybooks on their own. My two boys (ages 3 & 6) both really enjoy these stories. The younger child will often choose them at story time, while my oldest son will sit quietly reading them on his own. I like that my son could read this book easily and enjoy the story. I am even more impressed by the fact that he takes these out on his own over the summer and sits down without prompting for a good read at times.
As always this book was enjoyed by both children, and also encouraged a bit more creativity in sand castle building when we stayed at the caravan. Where before they would build the castles as quickly as possible, now they took the time to use shells as decorations, and included moats on some of the castles. They wanted a sand bridge though,and unfortunately the bridge pictured in this book would be impossible to build from sand. It is a thin even archway. Of course even the more decorative castles were stomped eventually. We build series of castles, hills and ditches which the boys use as an obstacle course. We also had fun discussing what we would do at the sea side if we could shrink in size as well, and perhaps the crabs were viewed in a different light. The story even includes a page of advice for safety in the sun.
Although my sons enjoy this book, and it is easy for my 6 year old to read, it is not their favourite in this series, as they prefer the stories with more action, the robots, and the evil Dr X which come soon after this. However it is a good story, and builds the skills and vocabulary necessary to read the more complex stories which begin in the next level. I would heartily recommend this entire series, but I don't think I would choose this book on it's own, as the story does benefit from knowing more about the characters and watches. If bought along with others in this series though, I am more than happy to recommend it and give it a full 5 stars.
This book is available from amazon as part of the Buildings cluster or seperatley from £3.10 at the time of this review.