Life of Fred: Potato Dreams (Eden Series)
Move over, Gossie and Gertie; Life of Fred is breaking into the early reader genre with the Eden series. Fans of Fred will immediately recognize the trademark sparse graphics (not in quantity, just as a type) and subtle humor. Prof. Schmidt even makes a couple of cameo appearances (as a bus driver/ticket seller in Bus and as himself in Duck). As a LOF fan, I enjoyed reading through each one. They are not phonetic readers, though they have controlled vocabulary that is much more true to beginner reading level than many of the larger publishers' series. Here children will meet both Fred as a (more or less) average four-year old and his compatriot, Kingie (the talking, artistic doll that appears later in the LOF series; notably in Calculus). They will also learn about colors, travel, packing for a trip, counting, how to make French fries and mashed potatoes, and a little grammar. Mostly, though, they will learn about the life of Fred on a trip at age four. I like that the books are part of an overall storyline that begins in Blue and goes through Rain (and possibly beyond). The books are appropriately silly, look like a mishmash of drawings by a four-year-old and graphic art, and are reasonably priced for hardback books. If you're already a Fred fan, you will enjoy introducing your budding reader to him. If not, it's worth a try as an easy reader series. All books are hardbound, 32 pgs.