The Gaskitts Series
by Allan Ahlberg, published 2001- 2005
– The Children Who Smelled a Rat
– The Man Who Wore All His Clothes
– The Woman Who Won Things
“Mr. Gaskitt was minding the baby. It was his turn. And doing the grocery shopping and opening the trunk and feeling in his pocket for the parking-lot ticket and tying his shoelace… and looking the other way.”
Imagine the above sentence written with only 4 or 5 words on a line, and you can see why these first chapter children’s books are great for new readers. With lots of space on the page, and helpful illustrations, along with a dose of good fun, each Gaskitts children’s book follows a similar formula. They all include the Gaskitts family, and a puzzle or mystery to be solved. I used the word ‘mystery’ cautiously since I don’t want to imply anything dark, heavy or series. Just a series of odd events that a first or second-grader can easily piece together.
Normally, I don’t review multiple books on one page. But each Gaskitts children’s book is of equal quality and similar enough that they don’t really need their own page. If your young reader likes one, he or she will probably like them all. I certainly did. I reviewed one other Gaskitts children’s book earlier, The Cat Who Got Carried Away. That was simply because I hadn’t yet read the others. Now that I have, I can heartily recommend them for good first chapter books. They also make good read-alouds.
One warning about The Man Who Wore All His Clothes: Mr. Gaskitts plays a department store Santa Claus. If your child would have his Santa Claus experience ruined by that, then skip that particular children’s book.