Reviewed by Dotty Winters
We are big fans of Orion Book’s Early Reader series, so we were keen to review this new release, Weird Sports Day. Early Reader books come in two levels- blue books, which you read with your child, encouraging them to read the bits they can, and red books, which your child can read themselves. All of the books look like “real books”, in that they are paperback size and around 60 pages – they are heavily illustrated so there isn’t any dense text, but children feel really grown up reading them as they move on from picture books. We’ve also found that as reading improves, the blue books become useful again, as they contain some more challenging words which your child can read to improve their skills and vocabulary. This dual purpose makes these books really good value. Weird Sports Day is a blue Early Reader, and part of a series of Weirdibeast stories about “mixed-up” creatures.
This story centres around Katie Cat, who is half owl, half cat (“She’s a Miaowl”), and her weirdibeast friends, who are about to compete in an Animal Sports Day. The story starts with their preparation for the event – it’s a struggle to get everyone into their sports kit, especially when one character (half bunny, half crab) has far more legs than leg holes in their shorts. The friends meet a new character, who is half elephant and half mouse. As elephants are afraid of mice this leaves her permanently terrified. The way in which the friends support and include this tiny and timid weirdibeast is heart-warming, and you won’t be surprised to hear that Ellie-Mouse goes on to play an important role in their victory in one event.
My 6 year old enjoyed the story, and especially liked looking at the illustrations to see if he could guess which animals each character was a combination of. The 3 year old was listening in to the story and also got involved in guessing the animals; he thought the pig with the squirrel tail was hilarious. Having read through the story once together, the 6 year old re-read bits of it to his younger brother, which was really lovely to see.
This story is unashamedly silly, and made us all laugh, and like all the best stories the ending was a real “air-punch moment”. We’ll be looking out for other titles in this series.
Available to buy from Hachette Children’s Books here.