I am not especially fond of using books to market television shows to kids, or of using characters from television shows to trick kids into enjoying reading. I think there is plenty for kids to like about books, and Dora the Explorer doesn’t need to be on the cover for them to discover and appreciate those things. That said, though, as a librarian, I know some kids live and breathe by these tie-in easy readers, and I make an effort to read at least a handful of them whenever a new stack arrives in the mail. This is how I discovered Surf that Wave! the fourth book in the Ready-to-Read Backyardigans series.
It’s not easy for me to admit this, but this book, wherein Pablo, the penguin from the Backyardigans TV show shows off his surfing skills, is one of the better Pre-Level 1 Readers I have read this year. There are less than 30 unique words used in the entire story, and yet, the text is interesting to the reader from beginning to end. Action words like paddle, ride, jump, spin, and flip provide excitement, and they are also words that can easily be sounded out by kids who know their letter sounds. There are no tricky exceptions to the rules of English to deal with; only the word “again” on the last page sounds slightly different than it’s spelled, and that is probably a sight word for most kids anyway.
The climax of the story, where Pablo says “Oops!” and then “Wipeout!” is surprising and somewhat silly, so the payoff for reading up to that point isn’t a disappointment. I think kids will enjoy the unexpected wipeout, as well as the ending, where Pablo decides to do it all over again.
This book is engaging, easy to read, visually appealing, and entertaining for its intended age group. I recommend it very highly to families with new readers, whether they have ever watched The Backyardigans or not.
I borrowed Surf that Wave! from my local public library.