Paul Russel, illus. Aska, London: EK Books, hb, 978 1 9253 3577 4, 2018, £10.99, 32pp.
Picture book, fiction, 5-7 years
This book takes the form of a first-person narrative by a young unnamed boy whom the reader suspects to be dyslexic, though this is not stated.
The boy admits that he loves writing stories, featuring such imaginative entities as dragons and ocean-going ships. Many of the words in his tale (including its title) are phonetically spelt. But his love of story-telling fades in the classroom. His work is always heavily critiqued and covered in red slashes.
Suddenly, however, the situation changes. A new teacher arrives on the scene, one who insists he is looking for the story with the most imaginative content, not the most perfect spelling. Texts can always be edited at a later stage. The boy’s imagination and creativity earn him praise and his love of story-telling is revived.
This book bears vivid illustrations on every page. The pictures ease a reader’s path through the text. The message of the book is relevant to pupils at Key Stage One, aged five to seven years. The message is that creativity is not impeded in pupils by insisting on rigid enforcement of the rules. A more relaxed approach will foster literacy and a love of literature for its own sake, not just as a means of passing exams.