Friday, May 30, 2014

Great Read-Aloud Short Stories

Stories for 6 Year Olds, Random House NZ
Stories for 7 Year Olds, Random House NZ

I’m going to get something out of my system. I still mourn the passing of Random House NZ’s previous series of short story anthologies, edited by Barbara Else and illustrated by Philip Webb. They were truly handsome books, sturdily hard-backed, well designed and illustrated, and given a personal touch by the input of a skilled editor. They still have an imposing presence on my bookshelves.

So I’m trying not to be too tough on this new series of short stories. Each volume contains 25 excellent stories from a bunch of authors ranging from extremely well-known (eg. Margaret Mahy, Patricia Grace, David Hill, Kate de Goldi) through solid and trusted authors (eg. Janice Marriott, Elizabeth Pulford) , to names that aren’t quite so familiar. I read all the stories, and was impressed by their whimsical and humorous tone, as well as by the strong New Zealand flavour. I suspect some of the more entertaining stories were inspired by real events...

Note that these anthologies are only available in paperback and e-book. There is no named editor. The cover and illustrations are done in a very casual, childlike style of drawing. One eye-catching feature is the use of large print for the 7 year-olds and extra-large print for the 6 year-olds. I found this rather disconcerting - but I’m not the target audience, of course. I’m looking forward to reading this book with my 6 year-old grandson to see if the large print makes his reading experience more pleasurable... In the meantime, I’m sure primary teachers will find the stories just about perfect for reading aloud to a class.

ISBN 978 1 77553 612 3 $19.99 Pb

ISBN 978 1 77553 614 7 $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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