Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw


Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw

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Buy Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Julia Donaldson for older children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd.
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781120057

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I love Julia Donaldson's books for younger children. Everyone loves The Gruffalo and Tyrannosaurus Drip is still one of our favourites, but as the children have grown, these books have been read less frequently. I have to admit, I've missed them. Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door gives us a chance to enjoy this brilliant author for just a little while longer. This is fun story, told in the first person, so we never know the name of the main character. We do know she is lively active young girl, perhaps with an active imagination. I would guess her to be about 10 years old with an equally active and inquisitive younger brother named Elmo.


The children's grandmother is coming to live with them, which means they must move to a larger house. I've found most children's books treat a house move as an unpleasant experience that the children gradually come to accept. I liked that this book did not put any negative connotations of moving; it was just an adventure. What a refreshing change. The only problem is that the parents have passed up the opportunity to own a wonderful home with a jungle-like garden, a huge spider and monkey wall paper for a rather boring neat and tidy place with flowered wall paper next door. The new home is quickly transformed into something more child friendly with dinosaur wallpaper and such, but it can never be as fun as the slightly decrepit jungle house. Since no one lives next door, the children are soon playing in the jungle garden, and then after finding a key, in the house itself. The fun all ends when a new neighbour moves in - Mr Birdsnest - and the children's imaginations work overtime. In the end though, the children find a lovely new friend, and perhaps learn not to judge so quickly by appearances.


This book is heavily illustrated, and even pages that are primarily text often have some small design. This really adds to the experience of reading this book. I also feel illustration is especially important as children first make the jump to paperback books, and the illustrations allow the child to visualise the story. The illustrations are in black and white, but surprisingly complex for this type of book. Hannah Shaw has created the perfect back garden jungle. I really wish I could live in the jungle house with the overgrown garden myself.


Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door is one of the first books in an exciting new series from Barrington Stoke called Little Gems. Barrington Stoke started out quite small, created to fill need for real books for struggling readers. Patience Thomson, a former headmistress of a school for children with learning difficulties wanted to create books with real stories, that older children would want to read, and that dyslexic, struggling or reluctant readers could read. The result was truly ground breaking series of books with a high interest age level, but a low reading level, or hi-lo books.

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. Although created as dyslexia friendly, this format makes reading easier for all children. My own son has often commented on how much easier it is to read these books, making reading into a truly enjoyable experience for young children. Little Gems books are also dyslexia friendly, but these are designed for a younger age group. This series is designed to support children taking their first steps to independent reading, whether they are dyslexic or not. The easy to read text, high quality illustrations and exceptionally high interest stories give these books a wide interest range, with a relatively low reading age. Little Gems have a reading of age 6. They are recommended for children from 5-8 with average reading abilities, and ages 7-10 for struggling readers. I also feel these make excellent read aloud books for children even younger, and my four year old enjoys these books as well.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend:

Chuckle Bob's Great Escape by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson

Yuck's Robotic Bottom by Matt and Dave

Buy Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson and Hannah Shaw at Amazon.com.

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Last modified on 17 April 2018, at 11:30