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I am always on the look out for books that my class would enjoy that I can keep in the classroom. I am frequent purchaser of second hand children's books in local charity shops, but on this occassion I bought new, since I was getting this book 'Trip-trot Tippy-Toes' for a very reasonable 99p in bargain books, and was inticed by the fact that it was published by Ladybird.
This book, written by Judith Nicholls and illustrated exceptionally well by eric Smith, is a rhythm and rhyme book, promoted as being a 'lift the flap phonic storybook'.
There are a few different characters in this fast paced but traditional story: Hare, Owl, Fox, Tortoise and Squirrel. The Hare always refers to himself as a 'trip trop, leap-a-lot, skipping, hopping hare' and wants to have a race with Owl and Fox. From the very first pages, the story contains plenty of rhyme for example '.......hoppping hare .....catch me if you dare!' Children can lift the flap on the appropriate page to reveal the rhyming word. It is a great way of getting children to predict the rhyming word, before showing them if they have guessed correctly by lifting the flap.
Owl, however, is not in the mood to race, and Hare finds that neither is Squirrel, especially as Hare likes to show off in front of the others. Again, there is plenty of rhyme to be found in this book eg '.....prance and dance'. Following the traditional story of the Hare and Tortoise, the ever slow and steady tortoise agrees to the race, and sets off 'slow and sure, towards the shady wood. He tramped along on tippy toes, he'd do the best he could.'
As most children know in the story, the hare takes a rest. Tortoise is encouraged by his friends to continue on, past the hare who 'slept in the sun' and with a wide smile realised 'that hare has not won.' The story concludes with the tortoise finishing first. The hare 'dreamt he'd won the race... but Tiptoe Tortoise slow and sure, sat at the winning place!'
The final two pages offer parents and teachers activities and games to play that involve children looking through the book to find sounds, words, rhymes etc.
My reviews of children's books are usually very positive, however in this case, I was a little disappointed. The story itself is very familiar to both children and adults, and the outcome of the story is quite obvious. The illustrations are beautiful, and yes, there is a chance for children to think about rhyme, but I found that the sentences were too long for children to really pick up on the rhyming words, and many phrases needed to be repeated before they could find the rhyming pairs. This book also claims to have rhythm, but again I found the length of each phrase far too long for children to really be aware of this. On a positive note, it is a useful phonic storybook, so children can use their knowledge of sounds to work out the words that they might otherwise be unfamiliar with, but even with that, a lot of the words required quite an extensive knowledge of phonics, that many young children who would want to read this book, just wouldn't have. Older children who may have acquired that deeper knowledge would probably be uninclined to read such a foundation stage book. This is my opinion however, and I feel that there are many better childrens books out there that promote rhythm and rhyme more readily and are much easier for children to decode using their phonic skills.