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

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

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: The most delightfully mischievous monkey since Curious George in a wickedly witty tale sure to delight all ages from Barrington Stoke.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781122150

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Chuckle Bob looks positively wicked in the first illustration of this book, but then who can blame him for feeling a bit cranky? He wants to swing in the trees and run in the grass, not sit in a cage all day. When he sees a chance to escape, he takes it, causing all sorts of mayhem in the process. Once out of his cage he turns the entire pet shop into a disaster zone. He lets the parrot loose, but it falls into the fish tank. Fish get knocked everywhere, including down the pet store assistant's top, and then he lets out the gerbils and rabbits as well. While Mr Rush, the pet store owner and his assistant Maya try to deal with all the mischief he has caused, an unsuspecting customer enters the door, and Chuckle Bob makes his escape, with just a bit more mayhem of course.

Chuckle Bob leads Mr Rush on a merry chase through the town, with plenty of screaming, car crashes and mad cap adventures galore before spotting the very thing he wants most of all. Just beyond the town is a forest, full of leaves and trees and wonderful hiding places - just the place for a little monkey. Chuckle Bob is delighted to be in a forest again, but this is nothing like the warm and rich South American rain forest he was taken from. How long can a little monkey survive in a small wood with a British winter closing in?

My son absolutely loved Chuckle Bob. He especially liked when the monkey was escaping through town and people were arguing about what type of creature had raced past. The most ridiculous guess was an escaped jellyfish, which was also his favourite. He also loved when the fish jumped down the lady's shirt. He also enjoyed the illustrations, which really add to the story and the easy-to-read to text. I read this myself afterwards, and I have to admit, I could barely supress laughter myself. I always loved Curious George as a child, but this was even better, at least for an older reader. That said, I read this to my four year old who enjoyed the book as well. This really is a book that could appeal to all ages.

This book is obviously intended as humour, but whether it is intentional or not, there is another level to this story which I especially liked. When Chuckles Bob does really need help, he is too frightened and angry to accept what is offered. Kindness wins out in the end, but this can be a valuable lesson for children. Most children will at some point come across another child who is angry and lashes out at everything. It is good for children to understand that a very angry child may just be hurt and frightened, and even better if they can respond with the same gentle kindness as the children in this story. It can also be helpful for a hurt and angry child to discuss the monkey's feelings, without ever directly referencing their own. A teacher or parent can gently mention how others wanted to help Chuckle Bob, but he kept everyone at a distance. In short - this book has it all, a great story with plenty of humour, good illustrations and Barrington's Stoke's unique easy-to-read format. This book has earned a unanimous five star rating from the whole family.

Chuckle Bob's Great Escape 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 illustration, 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, but at a much lower reading level than the interest level.

The main idea is to give a child books he or she can really enjoy, which are easy enough that the struggle of trying to decode text does not ruin the pleasure of reading. Once a child is hooked on the reading, their reading level inevitably improves. Children who read for pleasure become better readers, and children who read well will read more often for pleasure leading to a never ending circle of enjoyment and increasing proficiency in reading. 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. The double spacing and frequent breaks mean he does not lose his place in the book, and makes reading a far more enjoyable experience. He also finds it far easier to read out loud from this type of book. He loves the short stories which he can finish in one sitting, and he loves having books which suit his interest level but still have illustrations. 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. These books make reading a pleasant activity that children will actively seek out in their free time. Barrington Stoke creates books children want to read - and books that even children who struggle with reading can read.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend:

How Brave Is That? by Anne Fine and Vicki Gausden

Magic Ink by Steve Cole

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Buy Chuckle Bob's Great Escape by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chuckle Bob's Great Escape by Jeremy Strong and Scoular Anderson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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