Following Lazy Bear, Crazy Bear and Gran on a Fan (both 2015), Bolger and Hodson shift focus from phonics to introduce children to different sight words and sentences that provide the basic building blocks for independent reading.
Using juxtapositional situations between the two main characters (orange Ed and purple Fred, both indeterminate, friendly-looking bipeds with big noses), the book aims to teach 53 of the very first sight words children will encounter during their reading journeys. Ed and Fred are presented on each page doing different things: Ed is at the beach, playing, running, jumping, and swimming, while Fred is doing none of these things and usually falling into misadventures. With a few short sentences per page, the story goes on, introducing concepts to readers while being a tad cruel toward Fred with its silly examples and situations (he was fine on the horse, but he doesn’t much like having the horse on him, for instance). Eventually Fred breaks the fourth wall, demanding better scenarios, and it does not go well. A note encouraging readers to practice the words learned from the book until they can read them on their own is attached at the end.
The book lacks the friendly wit of Dr. Seuss’ and Mo Willems’ early readers, but it’s a useful resource for both children learning to read and adult English language learners, if heavy on the slapstick. (Early reader. 6-8)