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Project X: The X-bots Are Coming - Anthony McGowan

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Genre: Junior books / Author: Anthony McGowan / Publisher: OUP Oxford / Released: 08.01.2009

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      11.01.2012 17:10
      Very helpful



      Another exciting adventure for Team X

      We have used Project X books for some time as a major part of our reading curriculum. My son is now moving on to more advanced books, but these were the first books that really caught his interest enough that he would happily turn off the video games and sit down struggling to read at higher levels to get to what he called "the good stories". These were the stories with more action and adventure as opposed to the earlier books which were somewhat limited by available vocabulary. The first books are of course, quite simple using a very limited amount of words, and as a child progresses through the levels, they become familiar with more and more complex vocabulary. This book is bookband 12 - Brown which corresponds to Oxford Reading Tree's stages 10 -11. This level is roughly recommended for ages 7 -9, but each child reaches different stages at different ages. Many children also seem to achieve literacy in bursts, so they might spend ages on one level and then zip through the next three - you really can't rush it any more than you can rush any other stage of development.

      While you can't rush reading ability - you can encourage it. I have always felt the best way to encourage a child to develop literacy skills is to have a wide variety of books, both at the child's current reading level and a bit ahead that the child really wants to read. I chose this book when my child was reading a few book bands below this level, but he was in such a hurry to read the real adventure stories he just raced through the different stages. This means I never had to push my son to develop his reading skills ( which I think in many cases can do more harm than good), instead he stretches his own abilities.

      Like many books in this series 'The X-bots are Coming' is only half a story. These books have only 48 pages, with illustrations on each page. In order to accommodate more complex stories many stories are divided over two books. I would not recommend buying this book on it's own. You'll just be getting to the most exciting part when it cuts off to be continued in 'Attack of the X-bots'. The two books will give you one complete story, but it is only a small part of the overall adventure. My son loved reading these, and my three year enjoys these as story books - but I do not think they would be nearly as good if we had not read the other books in the series first.

      In this story, the children must find a new clubhouse, or place to hangout when they shrink to micro sized. They decide to use Tiger's old toy castle, which is placed on an island in the duck pond and fortified for defense. The children expect an attack from Dr. X's miniature robot robot army - the X-bots and prepare the castle for defense, building catapults, digging a moat and making a robot trap with magnets. Of course the logical thing would probably be just to use the watches to make themselves big and stomp on the robots. This just wouldn't be nearly as much fun though.

      My sons have both enjoyed this book, and even more so 'The Attack of the X-bots' which comes after this. I think this book has a great deal more action and adventure then most books in this reading level - making it ideal for boys who tend to be more picky in what they will choose to read than girls. But beyond having a good story, this book is brilliant for use in a unit study on castles and defenses. It explains how things like catapults work, and how defensive locations are chosen. There is a third book in this cluster, which is non fiction called 'Under Attack' and I would really recommend all three books for children who have an interest in castles, armies and fortifications. For other home educators, these three books can form the back bone of a brilliant unit study. Of course they would be wonderful in the classroom as well, which is really what this series was designed for.

      We had a great time reading this book. We even took an old toy castle and spent the day firing toy catapults and discussing defenses. We then made forts and bases for nerf gun assaults. It really is a fun book as well as having a great deal of educational value. The books are expensive though, at roughly £5 each. I do think the binding could be better as well, and this may sound like nit picking, but the books in this series are all different sizes. It would be nice if they were all the same height and width when you are buying a large collection. Still, I do feel these books have been a worthwhile investment. I think being able to read well, and having a love for books are such an asset to a child - not just while they are in school, but throughout their entire life. As these books have both helped my son learn to read, and to love books, they are worth every pence in my opinion.


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