Can the venerable I Can Read line attract beginning readers with facts?
For decades these popular, often humorous leveled readers featuring well-known characters (Pinkalicious, Fancy Nancy, Amelia Bedelia, Danny and the Dinosaur, and more) have provided practice in reading skills. For its 60th anniversary publisher Harper has partnered with the National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick magazine and website and tapped veteran science writer Markle to broaden their reach. Questions about lions, including life in a pride, how lions communicate, how lions learn, what lions eat, where lions sleep, and lions’ grooming habits, introduce topics and are highlighted in green. Simple repetitive answers are printed in a clear, black type. Each behavior is illustrated by attractive stock photos from the NWF archives. Ranger Rick, NWF’s iconic cartoon raccoon mascot, interrupts the flow of facts with additional speculative questions, such as “How could teamwork help you?” Intriguing facts that do not fit the format are included in a “Did you know?” section. A “Fun Zone” page explains that lions are very fast and challenges readers to test their own reaction times. “Wild Words” offers a seven-word glossary. “Dig Deeper” refers parents or teachers to the Ranger Rick website. None of this, however, is quite enough to grab the attention of new readers raised on live-action wildlife television.
Serviceable but nothing to roar about. (Informational early reader. 5-9)