Reviews of children's literature written for teachers. Each book is considered for its potential to support learning across the curriculum as well as how it might support children's language and literacy development.
The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling is a beautiful picture book based on the mythical creature. Jack, somehow wanders into the shielded magical forest. The magical inhabitants instantly take to him and teach him magic. Jack is a natural showing a particular skill for creating ice and snow. However, Jack's presence is also cause for concern as he has left the way into the forest open. This means the magical creatures are in danger from the greedy Goblins.
The tale unfolds in a way which is not dissimilar to many other fairy tales. Jack tricks the Goblins into thinking that the reflection if the moon in the lake is in actual fact the sun. Children will enjoy the humour in the story and the detailed illustrations.
The illustrations in the book are vivid watercolours, which capture the setting of the enchanted forest. As such the text would provide an excellent stimulus for any Key Stage 1 or even lower Key Stage 2 class who are looking at descriptive writing and settings.
The opening sentence 'It was a crisp and frosty morning.' is accompanied by a beautiful, detailed, full page illustration in cool blues of the boy asleep and two snow-beetles.
The following two-page spread zooms out from the scene to introduce us to the other creatures of the forest. These are also introduced through the written text 'Shadows came bobbing and gliding towards them from every direction.'
The characters in the story are also vividly described: 'Cowslip, a tall and gentle creature with hairy knees, spoke first.' The descriptions focus not just on the characters' physical appearance but also their traits and children will enjoy reading about the grotesque traits of the Goblins.
As a story as a whole, the structure is simple for children to identify the beginning, the build-up, problem, climax and resolution. It also includes the features associated with fairy stories: good versus evil, magic, mythical creatures etc. It has also been animated by the BBC and is available on DVD.
Overall, the Tale of Jack Frost by David Meling is a good read-aloud story for foundation stage, Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 which also provides a great deal of opportunities for studying descriptive language particularly of setting and character.