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An Amazing Circus of Phonograms: Act 1 Review by Melissa Batai

Mary Jo Nyssen
1467 13th St. SE
Salem, OR 97302-2513

An Amazing Circus of Phonograms: Act 1 is a book by Mary Jo Nyssen that won First Place in the Purple Dragonfly Book Award. This book tells a story, but within the story, students learn the sounds that certain phonograms make. There are 22 phonograms that are covered in the story: the five differently spelled “er” sounds—er, ir, ur, ear, and wor, and the other 17, sh, ee, th, ay, ow, ou, oa, oy, oi, aw, au, ew, ui, oo, ch, and ea. Each phonogram is written in a different color within the word so that it stands out. Nyssen colors the phonogram purple if it only has one sound. If the phonogram has more than one sound, the first sound is green, the second is red, the third is blue, the fourth is orange, and the fifth is yellow. The book retails for $13.99.

This book is the second in a trilogy. The first book, A Colorful Journey through the Land of Talking Letters, introduces the first 26 letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Ideally, parents will start with the first book before moving on to this book. When using this book, parents can simply read it to their children, and through repetition, students will pick up the sounds that the phonograms make. This book is ideal for the reader who has progressed through the first book. The recommended age is 6+. This book is for any child, whether the child is homeschooled or attends school.

My daughter is six and learning to read. She enjoyed both the story in this book and the colorful pictures and letters. Later, when we were working together on reading, she recognized one of the phonograms covered in the story and told me that sound had been in the book we read together.

This book is very long to read in one sitting. If attempting to do so, your child likely wouldn’t get the full impact of the story and phonogram lessons. This book might be better to read in small pieces, such as a few pages a day. You’ll also want to start with the beginning of the series, especially with emerging readers.

Nyssen’s book, An Amazing Circus of Phonograms, makes learning to read fun. Most children will enjoy this book and learn from it, which parents will appreciate.

-Product Review by Melissa Batai, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2016