Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Here's Hank: Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards

Here's Hank: Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards
by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Synopsis: From the authors of the bestselling Hank Zipzer series comes a new book for younger readers, featuring a our beloved Hank, only years younger. This fourth book in the Here's Hank series delights readers with a sibling tale that many of the young readers of this series can relate to. In this book,  Hank, in an effort to please his younger sister Emily, is attempting to put on a Reptile Show for her birthday party. In order to surprise Emily and her friends, Hank cooks up a scheme to dress up as a wizard. Hank will dress up as "The Westside Wizard" and delight his audience by pulling a snake out of thin air! What could go wrong? If Hank's true identity is revealed during his performance, his good deed will turn into a gigantic disaster.Hank has struggled to learn new things, and he wonders, as does the reader, if he will be successful in pulling off his magic. Can Hank make Emily's 7th birthday her best birthday ever?

Building Background: You may best know author Henry Winkler from his work acting and producing in Hollywood. I know him best from his work on a show called "Happy Days" I used to watch during my childhood. The Hank Zipzer series was inspired by Mr. Winkler's own challenges with a learning disability. His diagnosis of Dyslexia did not come until Henry was 30 years old. That is a long time to endure having a learning disability without assistance or recognition of what challenges you. Now Mr. Winkler and Lin Oliver travel all over talking to kids about their challenges, and giving the advice "No matter how you learn, it has nothing to do with your brilliance. You have greatness inside of you." This book was printed in an easy-to-read font, so that readers with Dyslexia could easily navigate and read the text.

I am a huge proponent of reading with your children, and having them understand what they are reading on a deeper, more personal level. The love of literature for information or entertainment begins in the lap of a parent. For students, being in school can be a continuation of that love of reading. Having the right books makes all the difference! Students in school are being asked to examine literature closely, and delve deeper into the author's purpose. While Here's Hank is intended to entertain the reader, there are avenues you can explore that would engage a young reader, and help them step into Hank's world. 

Extending the Book: If your children, like mine, were not sure what Dyslexia exactly is, and needed to understand this learning disability, this website explains it well. It is far more common than we think.

What could be more fun than becoming a wizard just like Hank? This link provides instructions, and a video clip on a hat trick using milk. So much fun!

Finding the right book for your young reader can be a challenge. With the right book, your child can learn to love reading, even if reading is difficult for them. This is a great series for young readers, especially struggling readers. The vocabulary is easy to understand, and the text laid out in a way that is approachable. If your child continues to struggle with print versions, you may want to try adding an audio companion to the books your child reads, which I offered as an option to parents while I was working as a Reading Specialist. I highly recommend this series for children ages 6 and up.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts are mine, and mine alone. I did not receive any compensation for this review. 

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