Thursday, August 13, 2009


By Chris Wilson

Author & Illustrator: Harry Bliss
Publisher: Toon Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-935179-00-9

Luke is bored. What child doesn’t spin and shake in the wake of his father’s incessant jabbering with a neighboring dad? Luke does what kids do: He observes a flock of pigeons cooing and when they fly the coop, so does Luke. It’s all innocent enough; he simply follows what he finds interesting.

Dad calls mother and the two alert the authorities. Meanwhile, Luke is having quite an adventure chasing the pigeons all over the city, down sidewalks, into crowds.

Eventually he tires and follows the flock to the top of a water tower perched on a building. The firefighters finally find and rescue Luke, thanks to the concerned citizen who spoted the little boy on the roof. The tired little tot is reunited with his parents and all ends well.

Toon Books has cornered the market on comics for early readers and they have done so by providing authentic stories that children can enjoy, and enjoy it they do. While completing a rotation in kindergarten I had the opportunity to read this book to the kids. The classroom teacher had to step out of the room for a while, and I seized the moment to read.

Reading a comic aloud to a group is a bit tricky as there are multiple panels per page and the kids cannot really see the words. I saw that as a barrier, but the kindergartners did not. I read the entire book to them and they giggled and laughed and enjoyed every second of it. I stopped often to let them absorb the illustrations and make sense of the story.

Most of the time, I kept the book pointed at them and I read it by peering down from the top of the book. It’s a bit awkward but you get used to it. It worked and they loved it, begging me to read more comics. By then, the teacher came back and we moved on to another activity.

K-kids don’t stay with any one activity for very long, but I was encouraged by the fact that they wanted to sit longer and have another story read to them. If a comic can keep kindergartners engaged for extended periods of time, then I consider that quite a success. LUKE ON THE LOOSE did just that.

The bulk of the pages consist of 1-3 panels per page, although there is at least one 6-panel page. The flow of the panel arrangement is clean and simple for young eyes. The text is leveled for young readers and the typeface seems slightly larger than most comics. The size of the book is also perfect for little hands (9” x 6”).

Chris’ Rating: Ages 5 and older
Publisher’s Recommendation: Grades K-2

Lexile: GN 170
Guided Reading Level: J
Reading Recoverly Level: 17

Toon Books does exactly what all comic publishers should be doing: offering the reading level of the title so teachers who utilize those rankings, can make use of the book.

LUKE ON THE LOOSE can be a very important book to introduce to youngsters to help foster a love of reading. It can also be used to help older youngsters who have fallen behind to build up their reading confidence and interest.

Highly Recommended
LUKE ON THE LOOSE offers our youngest readers the chance to get into comics on their reading level and fall in love with the idea of story. Click here to view the entire Toon Books library for little ones.

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