I’m always on the look out for brilliant non-fiction titles, of which there are now many fine examples. Non-fiction is a great way to engage children with reading and also topic work. Jasper the Dog series of books are unique in that they combine fictional characters with fantastic fact discussion giving them the entertainment factor along with educational value. Jasper Space Dog and Jasper Viking Dog written by Hilary Robinson, illustrated by Lewis James and published by Strauss House Publishing are just what I’ve been searching for.
Charlie Tanner and his pet dog Jasper are a curious pair, and through a series of letters to experts in their fields, they ask all the questions burning in their minds about space and, in their newest book, Vikings. This is such a clever concept, the inclusion of two fictional characters who are keen to find out about space and Vikings, give an added element of fun and entertainment to these books, but they also help answer questions about these topics, separate myths from the facts and engage children in reading with these fascinating subjects.
Hilary Robinson has written this book in a letter format, where Charlie writes letters to the experts asking questions and the experts then reply debunking or confirming the facts asked of them. It’s a wonderfully accessible format for a book. Easy to follow for younger children and allows for lots of opportunity to inject humour into the book. I love how not all of Charlie’s questions are right, showing children that being curious about the world around them is a good thing and that no question is too silly. It is so important to nurture children’s curiosity and show them that it’s good to ask any question that comes to mind and that it will be answered respectfully and fully regardless. It’s such a lovely bonus to these books.
The short chapters, clear, well spaced text and addition of illustrations make these easily digestable books great for beginner readers and those with mild dyslexia. The books teach all about Space and the Vikings, they teach about letter writing and they encourage questions and curiosity in children, all important life skills.
Lewis James’ lovely illustrations are well scattered throughout both of these books. They help to break up the text, reinforce the writing and just add interest for children reading them. It’s been very nicely executed. His cover designs are gorgeous, introducing us to Jasper and Charlie and grab your interest from the off. I love how wonderfully they work together as a set, so children can enjoy collecting these.
Jasper Space Dog and the latest release Jasper Viking Dog are both wonderful introductions to their respective topics, (I learnt a thing or two along the way actually). They are perfect support for learning and just pure entertainment for children. These will sit comfortably in a school environment to support education, however we also have Space Dog in our library and it is always being borrowed, so certainly a reading for pleasure choice. Hilary, Lewis and Strauss House Productions have provided something here that they always do so incredibly well, a merge of fiction and non-fiction, entertainment and learning in one very useable little book package! Top marks from Book Monsters.
Jasper The Space Dog is out now and available from all good bookshops and libraries. Jasper the Viking Dog will be released on February 19th, 2020.
To discover more about Hilary Robinson you can check out her website:
Lewis James can be found hanging out on Twitter
And Strauss House Productions live here
Thank you for reading this Book Monster review.