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Wild Baby Animals (Level 2 Reader), Knights and Castles (Level 3 Reader) Review by April Elstrom

Deborah Lock, Rupert Matthews
Dorling Kindersley Limited
1 (800) 733-3000
345 Hudson St., 4th Floor
New York, NY 10014

Dorling Kindersley books are always exceptional. Our family's bookshelves are full of books they have published. I fully expected to be pleased with the quality and content of the two readers that we received: Wild Baby Animals (level 2), and Knights and Castles (level 3). I wasn't disappointed.

The DK Readers are paperback books, measuring nine inches by six inches. They have a heavy card stock cover with a glossy, wipe-clean coating. As with all books from Dorling Kindersley, the readers are full of colorful illustrations and photography on white backgrounds. The level 2 reader has 48 pages with larger font and fewer sentences per page. The level 3 reader has 64 pages and more text to read.

Wild Baby Animals by Deborah Lock

The cute photographs of baby animals drew the attention of my children immediately. The book was easy for my 8 year old son to read, though my 6 year old daughter isn't able to read it alone yet. We read it aloud to the younger kids, and the book held their attention well. The photograph to text ratio was well-balanced for their attention span.

There are four chapter divisions in Wild Baby Animals. The first chapter covers where and how different animal babies are born. Examples are given for mammals, marsupials, birds, and reptiles. The second chapter focuses on the animals as they begin to grow and explore the world around them. This chapter includes mammals primarily, though penguins are included on the last page of the chapter. Chapter three includes illustrations of giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, ostriches and lions playing together. The final chapter talks about how gorillas, tigers, orangutans and crocodiles learn to take care of themselves.

My children especially enjoyed the Weird or Cute? Quiz at the back of the book, as well as the Wild Baby Animals Quiz. They quizzed each other and laughed over the family's difference in opinions over which animals were weird, and which were cute. There is also a glossary at the back of the book, though my children have ignored that so far. It can be helpful for young children reading the book themselves.

Wild Baby Animals is a fun and colorful way to teach young children about a variety of animals. I prefer to use readers like this for science lessons with young elementary students. Wild Baby Animals will proudly join our other science readers on our school shelf.

Knights and Castles by Rupert Matthews

Knights and Castles is a level 3 reader, intended for children reading fluently on their own. Each page has about two paragraphs of text, in an easy-to-read font size. There are five chapters of information, photographs, and illustrations. The book then ends with a Knights and Castles Quiz, and a helpful glossary.

I found the information in this book so interesting. Although I was already familiar with many of the physical aspects of castles, I was less familiar with the historical events that were shared in the book (other than the Crusades). My 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter were each eager to read it, and also found it interesting.

The first chapter introduces the early castles and the role they served in protecting the people. The second chapter focuses on the progression of castles and many of the most famous castles. Chapter three is all about knights, and castle four introduces monks who also served as knights. The final chapter covers wars and castle sieges throughout history. The final three chapters were the most informative to me, personally.

Knights and Castles fulfills the promise on its front cover – “packed with FACTS you need to READ!” I love to supplement our history curriculum with engaging books that have lots of illustrations and facts. I'll be adding this book to my history shelf, and we'll gladly revisit it when we return to medieval history, or whenever castles and knights pop up in our discussions. It's another wonderful Dorling Kindersley book!

-Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016