Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck

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Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: This must be the perfect book for the emerging reader: a great story and all the benefits of Barrington Stoke's high production values. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 84 Date: February 2016
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
ISBN: 978-1781125212

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Princess Opal lived with her father, the king, on the Island of Ashes. It was a grey island, set in a grey sea and Opal lived in a grey castle surrounded by a cold grey moat. The gardens were grey and so were the trees and flowers. Princess Opal even sat on a grey granite throne in a grey granite room - and she wished that her life could be different. She couldn't help but think that something was missing.

It was always November.

It was always grey, cold and wet.

One afternoon a fisherman towed into the harbour the little boat he had found adrift on the open sea. There was only room for one person in the boat, but it was something else about it which struck Princess Opal. The sails might be ragged, but the boat was RED and the colour gave her eyes a ticklish feeling. The sailor was called Wendell Lightfoot and when he touched something it glowed with colour. He believed that he was cursed, but the people of the island knew that this was magic.

It's a delightful story, with superb imagery. Ian Beck's own pictures are excellent, but you really don't need them (but please don't take them away) as the words paint the colours in your mind. The words speak gently to you and carry you along. It's a modern fairy tale that will delight old and young.

The pictures break up the text well making this book ideal for the emerging reader - you're never too far away from a clue about a particular word and the chapters (there are eight of them) are just long enough to give the reader with L plates a feeling of success when they've completed one - and at 84 pages it's not going to be too long before they have the success of completing the book under their belts. There are a lot of benefits to this book too. The font is one designed by Barrington Stoke to make reading easy and the paper (which is thick enough to prevent any bleed through from the reverse which can be a distraction) is a creamy matte colour which is easy on the eye. The book's also the right size and weight for small hands. It's not just a book either - under the front flap there's a picture to colour in and under the back flap there a 'spot the difference' puzzle (and I'm annoyed because I can only find five out of the six differences - I need a small child to help me!)

Grey Island Red Boat is dyslexia friendly, but even if your child is not dyslexic they will find the format of the book very user friendly - and if the carer or parent or adult is dyslexic then this - and similar books in the Barrington Stokes Little Gems series - could be the answer to helping their child to read. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

Readers who like the idea of this book will also love The First Third Wish which has a similar use of imagery. Slightly older children will appreciate Samurai which is also by Ian Beck.

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Buy Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grey Island Red Boat by Ian Beck at


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