The Smallest Horse in the World by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson
|The Smallest Horse in the World by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Margaret Young|
|Summary: A fun story about friendship from Jeremy Strong.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: March 2012|
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Bella despises the new girl at school, Swan. Swan is always bragging about her rich father, her fancy house, their Ferrari etc... And to make matters worse, she is rude, bossy and much bigger than Bella. Bella has problems at home too. Her parents have split up and she misses her father; her mother is always working and she doesn't seem to have any close friends. Things look pretty dismal after an argument with Bella, but every thing changes when Bella's favourite picture breaks and out steps a real live horse. A very tiny horse, but a horse all the same, and a talking one at that. Bella would love to keep the little horse, Astra, but the horse is desperate to be reunited with her true master, Rufus.
Bella is kind enough to put the horse's needs ahead of her own and agrees to help her find him. Astra might not be with Bella very long, but she won't be leaving Bella completely alone either. This is a brilliant story with plenty of humour about making friends, and keeping them. It turns out that Swan and Bella have more in common than they might think, and that a brash and boastful attitude might just be a cover for hurt and insecurity.
This is an illustrated book suitable for younger readers or even as a read aloud story. Most children will relate to Bella's attempts to deal with a school yard bully, and have a good laugh at Swan's bragging as well, but it may also help them to understand why some children behave poorly towards others. There is also plenty of humour as Bella tries to hide the little horse from her teachers at school - which results in total pandemonium. This book is illustrated by Scoular Anderson and the illustrations really add to the book. They also give the reader an idea of the size of the horse. This book is listed as a reading of 7, and even so, I would consider this a very easy book for a 7 year old. The interest level is given as 8 - 12, but I feel this could go much younger. I think some children as young as six may be able to read this on their own, and my four year old son really enjoys this as read aloud story at bedtime.
The Smallest Horse in the World is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence. There are also a fair number of illustrations, which can be especially important to boys, who are often less able to visualise a story without a little help. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children.
This type of book is known as hi-lo due to the fact that the interest level is higher than the reading level. They provide books older children want to read, even if they are reading far below their own age level. My own child does not suffer from dyslexia, but he has commented on how much easier it is to read the books with this style of print. He also prefers stories intended for older children. The double spacing and frequent breaks mean he does not lose his place in the book, and makes reading a far more enjoyable experience. These books can literally be life changing for a child who is struggling to learn to read, but they make reading easier for all young children, whether they have disabilities or not.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Smallest Horse in the World by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson at Amazon.com.
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