Racing Ruby by Susannah McFarlane

cover image Ill. by Lachlan Creagh. Little Mates series. Scholastic, 2013. ISBN:9781742833323.
(Ages: 3-6) This Little Mates series is beautifully Australian. Each one focuses on a different letter and a different Australian animal. In this case the letter is R and the animal is Ruby, a rainbow fish who relishes in racing around the reef. Filled with 'r' words, many of which are quintessentially Australian, this book will help to extend vocabulary, assist with phonemic awareness and help beginning readers in letter knowledge and identification. The dedication of each book to a single letter sometimes results in strange choices of vocabulary and seems to dictate the path of the storyline which in the case of Racing Ruby is more of a sequence of vaguely related information and events rather than a plot. As an alphabet and vocabulary book however Racing Ruby is a delightful small picture book with beautiful Australian and uncommon words such as rapid, ricochets, rankles, recommends, rebel, remarks, research, reeled, rattled, retrace, relax, record, reunited, ripper and regatta.
Depicted in these books is the beautiful Australian landscape amid gorgeous soft and detailed illustrations which children will love searching through for other 'r' things and will delight in the coral reef setting. These books are a great platform for initial sounds games with emerging readers and encourage the reader to relate elements of the story to their own life, thereby making some of the rich vocabulary meaningful. Each of these titles ends by posing a question to the reader, in this case 'Do you sometimes race around too?'
Nicole Smith-Forrest