One of the really great things about getting involved with Usborne is getting to learn about books that don’t have the same kind of marketing that most of the big name, character driven books get. When I was getting ready for my first big book fair, I borrowed a number of books from a friend and my daughters found two series that they loved! What was even better about the whole thing is that they feature the same character, just at different reading levels and slightly different ages. Kids can get to know this charming character at a young age and grow with her and her friend Jack, who has his own book series as well!
The first time we came across Billie is when she is in preschool in the marvelous Billie’s Underwater Adventure (there is also a desert adventure). In this book, Billie’s teacher has the kids pretending to be sea animals. Billie is too slow to get the coveted mermaid costume, but she manages to use her imagination to create an even more wonderful outfit. Then she and her friends create an entire world to explore “under the sea.”
Similarly, in the desert story, Billie is annoyed when it is a rainy day and her preschool teacher tells her that rainy days are great to sit inside and read. She doesn’t want to read, she wants to stomp in rain puddles. But her friend Jack comes to her rescue and together they explore secret caves in the desert.
We have had a lot of fun with the Billie preschool books. So when my kids got a hold of the early reader books about her, they were thrilled! The first series, Billie B Brown is marvelous because it was designed for new and struggling readers. They feature large print with no more than 50 words per page. Billie B is a bold and brave young girl who is learning how to believe in herself. Her best friend is a boy named Jack who struggles with some of the same issues that she does. Together, they navigate the world around them and perhaps learn a lesson or two in the process.
My 5 year old absolutely loves the Billie and Jack books. We read them at bedtime and now she is also super excited that there are some audio-book versions. She tries to read pieces of them herself and I think these will be her first chapter books. These are two series that I’m happy to have found.
For the slightly older set, there are the great Billie B. Mysteries. She is slightly older and now she is using her smarts and general common sense to solve mysteries at school and in the neighborhood. These books utilize longer sentences and more words per page, but are still easy to read.
We’ve read one and ordered the complete set. Both my 9 year old and my 5 year old enjoy these together. They are the kind of thing where J can read them to E and mom doesn’t have to worry at all about content.
It is really great to find a character that we can grow with. She doesn’t feel overly girly and there is something endearing about the fact that her best friend is a boy. While being purchased mainly for E, we will all get lots of good reading out of these books!