These are certainly the early readers for a family that wants to take their child through Stanley Schmidt's books from cradle to graduation. Schmidt's trademark wry humor and purposefully haphazard artwork are present in this saga of four-year-old math genius Fred and his doll Kingie on their trip to Fall River lake. These books aren't phonics focused, nor do they focus on a specific letter for each book. Instead they use simple words that should be adequate for an early reader, and move on to more advanced words by book eighteen.
The books are hardcover, full size, but they aren't heavy on text or illustrations. Schmidt uses a combination of line drawings and clip art to illustrate the words, and places some words in text bubbles. The large amount of white space and nontraditional text placement make these books less intimidating.
In typical Life of Fred fashion, there are tons of useful facts and skills sprinkled throughout the books, including a hidden dose of basic math. It's not great literature by any means but is certainly more entertaining than some of the "cat sat on a mat" early readers out there.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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