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This is one of the first books I bought from Oxford Reading Tree's Read at Home series. I picked it up only because we were on holiday, it was on special, and I just never bring enough books with us. We bought 4 of these, as they were on special 4 for £5, and read them all that night in the caravan. The next day we went back and bought every other book in the series that they had, filling in the gaps later with more from ebay.
This book is a short, funny story about Floppy the dog. My son had just turned 5 when we bought these and enjoyed this book, just as a story. His two year old brother enjoys it now. In the story Floppy the dog escapes all sorts of jungle animals with a simple trick, but how does he feel when the trick is turned on him?
The story is funny, well illustrated, and if you read many book this in this series, Floppy will quickly become a favourite with the children. Floppy is also likely to be familiar to many children because a large number of UK schools also use the Oxford Reading Programme.
Although my son liked the story, what really made him love this book was the hidden object in each picture. In this case a frog. He loved searching through the illustrations to find the frog, and can still have some fun with this at age 6. My youngest son has also taken to these books and always enjoys looking for the hidden items. While you are meant to look for the frog, there are many other hidden items you can choose to look for to keep this interesting, snakes, bugs, butterflies etc...
What made me love these books though, was the fact that my son was quickly reading through the easier ones. Although I was mainly using phonics, I believe children learn best with a variety of methods. Oxford Reading Tree gets a great deal of criticism now, being blamed with all the reading difficulties in the country by some. The fact is, no matter what method schools employ, some children will have difficulties. Although I feel learning to break down words phonetically is important, I also think it is important for children to learn other methods as well. After all many words in English can not be read phonetically. This book, like others in the series uses repetition of familiar words, so that children learn to recognise the words by sight. It also uses clear clues in the illustrations to allow a child to guess at an unfamiliar word. While this will never replace phonics in my opinion, it certainly is a great boost to a child's reading ability, whatever method of reading you teach. This also has a useful page at the bag to match objects that rhyme. Each book in this series will have some activity on the last page.
When I saw how quickly my son was able to read these I was duly impressed. But what impressed me more was the fact that he sought these books out, sat down and taught himself to read them. I may have taught my son the skills he needs to read phonetically, but he taught himself to read by sight with Oxford Reading Tree. Not only that, both of my sons really enjoy these books, and to me, that is the most important factor.
As I have said before, I am less concerned by what age my boys start reading, and more concerned that they enjoy reading. I think this book is perfect to help a child learn to love books. Even if this book was not educational, I would recommend it just to read aloud and look for the hidden pictures because it is a fun book to read. The fact that it helps children learn to read, and want to learn to read is a wonderful added bonus.
The only disadvantage to these books at all in my opinion, is the fact that they are more expensive if bought one at a time. Had I known how brilliant they were, and how affordable a whole set is, I would have saved a fortune. This book will cost £3.50 from Amazon new, a price I do find fair considering the quality. But you can get 30 for under £25 pounds in a set, which makes a much better bargain. I also really wish they had continued this particular series beyond level 5, but for a great start to reading these get my full recommendation!
I Can Trick a Tiger is a strange little story about the popular Oxford Reading Tree character Floppy the Dog. Floppy is having a little sleep at a children's party, and in his dream he's in the jungle being chased by some animals. He comes across a tiger first, and says "I can trick a tiger" and does so by telling the tiger there's a bee on his nose. The tiger then lets him go of course and looks for the bee on his nose. Floppy does this with a few other animals he meets, and that's the whole story. Really.
For the full retail price of £3.50, you're not getting a lot out of this really. The story is a bit dull, uneventful and repetitive. While the text needs to be a bit repetitive to help early readers get on board without having to learn too many new words, the actual story needs to be a little varying to entertain the audience. This story is so boring that we got to the end and the grandson wasn't even sure what he'd just read!
This is a pleasant enough book design wise as it has nice illustrations, and the text is printed in an easy to read format against a white background on every page too. But this just isn't enough to make up for the dull story I'm afraid, it just serves to make the book look like it might be a bit more interesting than it really is.
Fortunately we only paid £1.25 for this as part of a deal from The Works. If we'd have paid the full retail price of £3.50, I'd have felt cheated to be honest. The vocabularly in this is a bit tricky for level 2b readers in places, and the story really is very boring and uneventful. I'm not sure why the Oxford Reading Tree felt that it was helpful to publish a boring story to teach five year olds how to read the words 'trick', 'tiger' and 'nose' to be honest, they don't seem the most valuable of words to learn very early on.
Book Series: Read at Home