Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Read It Yourself with Ladybird reviews, Q & A & Competition NOW CLOSED

Hi everyone, Nayu here! I've been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to present you with this post. There are reviews for classic fairy tales from Ladybird, followed by an insightful Question & Answer session with the Ladybird team, and then there's a competition to win four Ladybird books! How cool is that! Ladybird books are simply awesome. I read them when I was younger, with totally different style of illustration and size of book. I wanted to do a post on how amazing this series is, so here it is! 

Level 1:  The Princess and the Pea, illustrated by Marie-Anne Didierjean (Children's, 5 years +, 10/10E) 
July 2013, Ladybird, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Ladybird

Based on the classic fairy tale. A prince wants to marry a real princess, so the queen devises a true test based on one pea and a lot of mattresses!

Nayuleska's thoughts 
Ignoring how silly it is to only want a perfect princess, this classic retelling is funny and charming I measn, there's no such thing as a perfect princess! I wouldn't want to marry a prince who was that fussy - there didn't seem anything wrong with the other princesses! Still, classics are classics for a reason, no matter how bizarre the meaning is. I've always adored this tale, and feel the illustrations are exquisite - including the pea mark on the princess!
Level 1: The Ugly Duckling illustrated by Richard Johnson (Children's, 5 years +, 10/10E)

July 2013, Ladybird, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Ladybird (link to follow soon)
Based on the classic fairy tale. The ugly duckling doesn't fit in and is chased away by everyone he meets. Will he ever find some true friends?
Nayuleska's thoughts
A well-known story retold with emotion filled pictures. It does show how prejudiced people can be - everyone should be able to fit everywhere. Plus the duckling/cygnet always looks cute!

Level 4: Heidi, illustrations byTamsin Hinrichsen (Children's, 5 years +, 10/10E)
 July 2013, Ladybird, 48 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Ladybird (link to follow soon)
 Based on the classic story by Johanna Spyri. Heidi loves living in the mountains with her grandfather and her friend Peter, and is homesick when she moves to Frankfurt. Will she make it back to her beloved mountains?

Nayuleska's thoughts
I call Heidi the mountain girl! She gets moved around and eventually gets to be where she wants to be. Dete is actually nice in this version, although I laughed at Clara's miraculous recovery - readers may need it explained people  in wheelchairs can't be cured just by trying to walk. Regardless of which elements are emphasized this is a charming retelling of a story which I adore in the anime version,

Question & Answer session with the Ladybird team

I'd like to thank the Ladybird team for providing insightful answers to the questions I had - here's all you need to know & more about the Ladybird Read It Yourself series!

1)  How is it decided what level a story should be? For example, Heidi is level 4 - and The Princess and the Pea level 1 - could they have been written as different levels, or does the content of the story influence which level is used?

The content of the story influences the level we select for it. Some stories are, by their nature, more involved in terms of plot etc and would naturally tend to sit in a higher level. Stories that have an element of repetition are great for Ladybird Read it yourself as this is key for beginner readers. Ladybird Read it yourself is not a reading scheme that independently teaches children to read from scratch, but rather a set of supplementary readers that can be used alongside reading schemes that children may be using at home or school, for extra practice, motivation and confidence-building. Through rich stories and meaningful, interesting art, this series makes books and reading a hugely enjoyable and successful everyday experience. Fun stories breed success, which in turn is essential for growing life-long readers.

The titles in the series are carefully graded into four levels that progressively introduce a wider vocabulary and longer stories as a reader’s ability improves. They use the look-and-say reading method where children learn words through sight recognition, not phonics. This method depends on picture clues as context to help work out the meaning of words.

2) Following from question 1, does a story ever get told on more than one level?


3) A lot of classic fairy stories are used in the series - as well as a few using well known characters like Moshi Monsters - what's the reason behind that?

The series takes well-loved fairy stories, classic tales and adventures starring favourite characters and retells them using simple, repetitive language suitable for learning and developing readers.  Retelling favourite, familiar tales is reassuring for young readers and being able to read stories about their favourite characters too makes reading fun and gives lots of variety!

 4) Is the marketing for a fairy tale retelling different from an original tale, since a lot of readers may already know the story? 

Our marketing isn't different for re-tellings compared to the original tale. Generations of children have been introduced to fairy tales in lots of different ways - whether it has been through books, films or games - and the beauty of fairy tales is that they are timeless and can be shared and retold over and over again. For our books, simple re-tellings or abridged versions make these classic tales accessible to children of different ages and different reading abilities, helping them to discover the magic of these tales from an early age. So, the most important thing for us is to encourage a love of reading and sharing stories, however these children discover these tales

5) Was there a particular reason for selecting the size of the books? I remember the ladybird stories from when I was little were far smaller, and in hardback. 

The paperback format is an established reader format in the UK, US and other territories. Children, parents and teachers are familiar with the size of these books.

We still create the small hardback format for some international territories. 

In addition to these questions the Ladybird team provided extremely useful info about the structure of the levels: 

How the levelling system works

Level 1 titles: for newly emergent readers aged 4+

15-20 words per spread
40-50 different words per book
(No more than 10-12 different story words, others to be all key words) total word count approx 200

Each 32 page story has 12 working spreads but in Level 1 titles the very first spread is an overview picture introducing the key story words or characters.

The simple stories in this level work best when they have one key repeated sentence or refrain that carries across most of the pages. Sentences are very short and simple with few conjunctions and no word should only used once throughout the whole book.

Level 2 titles: for beginner readers becoming more confident with sentence structures

20-30 words per spread
70-80 different words per book (approx 20 story words) total word count approx 300

Each 32 page story has 12 working spreads.

Story structure is still very simple at this level but conjunctions are starting to be added in to make sentences a little bit longer. Try to incorporate repetitive sentence structures and phrases throughout. No story word should be only used once throughout the whole book if it can be avoided, but the most common key words are probably ok to use once if there’s no way around it.

Level 3: for more confident readers who can read an entire short story with minimal help.

20-30 words per spread
100-120 different words per book (approx 40 story words) total word count approx 450-500

This level has 48 pages and 20 working spreads. Sentences are longer and more complex and the range of vocabulary is greater with more natural sounding syntax (such as contractions), although there is still obvious repetition of set phrases or words. This level marks a jump from 32pp to 48pp and the increase in overall word count reflects this rather than any extra text on pages, though a greater range of vocabulary is introduced within this.

Level 4: for more independent readers who are ready to read a whole book themselves

30-45 words per spread
150-175 different words per book (approx 60-70 story words) total word count approx 700-800

This level is 48 pages and 20 working spreads. Sentences are longer and more complex and the text is less rigidly structured and flows more naturally. Contains a wider vocabulary but still good to contain a wide range of key words. 

Now you're all filled up with knowledge about Ladybird books, would you like to win 4? Here are all the important details! 

 It could be one of the above!

The prize: 4 Read It Yourself with Ladybird books, 1 of each level chosen randomly to anyone in the world 

The rules: 1 entry per person, winners will be chosen by a random number generator, please make sure you read my protection policy.  

The deadline: 12pm GMT Wednesday 30th October 2013 (The winner is being selected shortly)

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