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"When Animals Invade" is part of Project X's Invasion cluster. Project X is a collection of leveled books which are specifically designed to appeal to boys. That's not to say girls will not enjoy them as well. In fact I am sure I would have loved these as child, but researchers have found girls will enjoy books with a much wider base of stories, while boys tend to want action, excitement and adventure. The Invasion Cluster is level 6 ages 6-7. As such the vocabulary is limited, but they still mange to create some very interesting stories, and in this case a very informative, if short, non fiction book. The book uses primarily words which would be found on any common words reading lists for this age, but this series also gradually introduces a few extras that will be used throughout the series, such as "invaders". There are also place names which a child is less likely to be familiar with reading, such as "Germany" and "Australia", and a few other tricky words like "raccoon".
"When Animals Invade" is only 16 pages long. The book has a table of contents at the front and an index at the back to help prepare children for these features as they move onto more advanced non fiction books. Should you have the parents guide for this cluster, it will suggest that you teach the child how to use these features at this time. My son is age 6 and picked up on this quite quickly. I also explained how these features would be more useful in larger books as we can quickly look up one subject without thumbing through the entire volume.
The rest of the book is divided into 7 mini chapters, each two pages long, with 3 -4 sentences. The main theme of the book is animals invading human territory, but also includes a mini chapter on humans invading animals homes. Some of the animals featured include monkeys in India, Raccoons in Germany, and Rats in the UK. Each mini chapter is illustrated with top notch wildlife photography, as well as having a map showing the animals location, and a picture of a popular character from this series , Cat.
This book was bought for my 6 year old son, primarily to develop his reading skills as we have been working our way through this series. I found the book excellent for teaching reading skills, and although he passed this level now, it is still pleasant to go back to. What really made this book outstanding to me though was the use of maps, allowing the child to see the geographical location of each short story. The book was also well written and very informative. i have to admit I enjoyed the stories myself. I especially liked the one about the raccoons in Germany. I had never known Germany had raccoons. Of course they are not meant to. It seems one pair in 1934 has now grown to over a million of the adorable little creatures. That said, I think people find them much less adorable when they move into their homes.
The animal featured for the UK is the common rat. The book tells us that the UK has roughly 60 million rats, making the rat population roughly equal to the human population. Of course I know some people quite like rats. I don't, but this provided a good opportunity to discuss what people can do to reduce the problem, like proper disposal of rubbish. I'd much prefer the raccoons like Germany!
I found the book is a good starting point to teach children the effects of some of our actions on the environment. For instance, we own two pet salamanders. They are capable of surviving outdoors in our climate, and I would like to build an outdoor cage with pond for them. I can not because should they escape, they could live and breed here, thus effecting local wildlife, so I explained all this to my son, as well as looking up online other cases where humans placing animals in the wrong environment has led to serious problems, like the cane toads in Australia, and pythons in The USA's Florida Everglades.
I bought this book as part of a set, but it sells new from amazon for £4.40. While this may seem a bit much for 16 pages, I am happy enough with my purchase. After all this book not only helped build my son's reading skills, but it also provided the starting point for lessons in science, ecology and geography. This book is designed for use in schools and would be excellent for this purpose. I have found the books perfect for home educators as you can easily build a whole curriculum around the clusters. But also would recommend this just for parents who want to provide a good selection of non fiction books for their children to read at home. The grading system, or book bands makes it easy to choose the right level. I can't say the non fiction books get read quite as often as the stories, but the children do enjoy them, and learn a lot from them as well.