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"Alien Invasion" is part of Project X new series for boys. These books are carefully graded so children gradually progress from one reading to the level. This particular story is book band 6 Orange and corresponds to Oxford Reading Tree level 6. I hesitate to suggest an appropriate age level as children learn to read at different ages. My son has recently turned 6 if this helps, but has progressed through the series from level one. My son loves these books as they present only limited difficulty if you progress through the series in order, with each new book having a few new and more difficult words, but never so many that the child struggles to read this. Additionally, the books genuinely have interesting stories and are usually well illustrated as well. Unlike the old "Peter and Jane" type primers ( which still do have their place in my opinion) these books can also be used just as story books to read to a younger child, and this one is enjoyed by my youngest son ( age 2) as well.
The books are grouped into clusters with a common theme. This book is part of the invasion cluster. It contains 1 - 3 sentences of clear bold text, building on the vocabulary established from earlier books. A few words may be unfamiliar to young children. For instance, my son did not know what the word "invasion" meant before starting this cluster. Some of the words may seem a bit odd for early readers but the publishers seem to be deliberately building vocabulary for much more exciting stories which follow in the next couple of reading levels. Other more challenging words for this series include: alien, different, growled and suddenly. Like other books in the series, this also includes questions to ask your child after reading and a suggested activity, in this case a space themed mobile. Should you happen to have the teachers guide, this will suggest that you draw the child's attention to 2 and 3 syllable words and ask them to count syllables. It also suggests asking the child to think about what the aliens might have thought when they landed on earth, and what Billy might have thought if he saw them.
Usually I do not give away the ending, but where the book is for young children, I do think this is acceptable. The primary purpose of this book is of course to teach reading skills, so I am sure no one reading this review will buying the book for their own reading pleasure. If you prefer not to know, please do not read my plot summary below:
Billy loves space and often sits at his window, gazing at the stars and wondering what could be out there. Little does he know that a ship full of nasty green creatures with huge teeth and terrible breath are at that very moment planning an invasion of earth. The illustrations show the aliens exercising to get make themselves big and strong and practicing fierce growls as Billy wakes up and goes about his day. The alien ship lands in Billy's back garden just as he is reading a book about aliens. Unfortunately, Billy misses the whole event as he mistakes the spaceship for a fly. You see the aliens may be fierce, horrible and rude, but they are not very big at all. The invasion of earth is cancelled after the aliens spot a huge monster otherwise known as a common fly.
Both of my sons really enjoyed this story. The ending is perfect and I believe prevent this story from being scary to most children. My own children found it funny rather than frightening. I would honestly recommend this book just as a fun story. It's main use is of course to help a child learn to read, and make reading fun, a purpose at which it excels.
Alien Invasion is available from Amazon for £4.40, or from Amazon Marketplace for £ 3. 64 new. At only 24 pages I do find this a bit expensive, but this is a fairly new series (2009), and I understand a great deal of research went into it's development. Considering the quality of the book, the fact that my sons both really enjoy it, and how much this series has helped my 6 year old progress in reading, I do consider this a worthwhile investment. I may complain about the price, but it won't stop me from buying more books in this series.