Good for: 6+ or 4+ (audiobooks)
After a year of feeling like Astroboy will never start reading, I have re-discovered books in my collection I can offer to Astroboy!.
A few months ago, I finally got tired of the endless 奇先生妙小姐 Mr. Men and Little Miss audiobooks and pestered Fleur for I Love Martine 我愛瑪婷 audiobooks she converted for me. The kids, especially Astroboy, were hooked immediately. He then wanted to read the books. It was his go to series to read in the car before we moved to Zorori.
I Love Martine by Gilbert Delahaye is a series of 52 books with 26 audio CDs, translated from French. It’s no surprise it’s got a very 50’s feel to it since it was written in the 50s. The story is about Martine and her little brother (born sometime along the series) and all their adventures.
I say adventure because sometimes it is very mundane daily school and home life such as caring for a new bird, or learning how to swim, other times it’s exploring the forest/swamp close by their house, or taking a train by themselves to visit grandma.
Though these are picture books, they are very long stories with super large and lovely illustrations accompanying each story. With its tiny font, it’s not really an early reader. But once the kids are on track for Level 1 books (basically after all your Little Bear, Frog and Toads, etc), they can definitely read these for practice.
Content level-wise, the books are good to read to preschoolers and be read by K and 1st-2nd graders. Heck, Thumper still enjoys them.
If you have a young one who is still reading picture books and not quite there yet, you can help comprehension by listening to th CDs instead.
Because the publishing company is out of business, I bought this for myself and various friends for from Taiwan for $1990 NT. That’s $67 for 52 HARDBACK books and CDs, before shipping! Audiobooks are so necessary for language learners and the set is worth it just for those CDs.
Here’s the short verdict: for what you get for the money, it’s totally worth the buy, unless the plot in these books aren’t your kids pot of tea.
So now for the long review.
I was all ready to discount the series till now. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the series enough and recommended it to all my friends. But Thumper went through the series fairly quickly once she read it around 8, never finishing the whole set because by then she was slightly above its level content-wise. I also never read it to her because the stories were all so long.
Astroboy around the same time (age 4 & 5) wasn’t interested at all by the small font and long story either, even the audiobooks, because his comprehension was lower comparatively and the stories were too long. I made the mistake of thinking this is a set of easy books for kids once they learn to read. I tried it on Astroboy once he finished Little Bear and other books in the Level 0 series.
Remember, each book is very long, even though it’s only 18 pages of text. In reality, this is not a set of early readers. But when the kids don’t want to read chapter books because, hey, it looks like a thick book! and you’re looking for long picture books to entice the child to read, this may be a good set.
A major lesson I learned this time is, with any books, you have to keep offering it to children. They might not want to read it because they’re not ready for for that content level or book length. It doesn’t mean they dislike it forever.
I’ve heard that some children don’t like these books. Kind of understandable. As I said, it’s got a very innocent, 50’s feel to it. The children never get into any major mischief. It’s mostly about their daily 50’s life. The illustration is very tame and old school style.
Just like 奇先生妙小姐 Mr. Men and Little Miss, the more I listen to the audiobooks the more I like the stories. 52 books provides you with a variety of daily life topics and so many match up with our lives. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Martine is the older sister and 小楷 her younger brother. It’s almost like the children’s own story written down.
The first book that hooked Astroboy was a book on Martine learning to cook from her mom. Here’s a prime example of how long the stories are. Usually pictures books list one or two dishes and that’s it. Not this one. Listening to the audiobook, I started wondering, when is the story ever going to end? She learned to cook so many dishes! Made Astroboy really want to try some of them.
Another story is about Martine learning how to swim, just like Astroboy is doing now.
As for the audiobooks, the production value is high. The best thing is it even makes a ding sound when it’s time to flip the page! It’s truly a series that you can read and follow along the audio.
I’m so happy and honestly slightly perplexed as to how Astroboy is making progress on the reading front. He still reads many of the zhuyin tones wrong, and when I quiz him on vocabulary in the book, he doesn’t know them. The whole reading process is so different from Thumper. But I’ve decided to just accept the situation and not fret so much about what he doesn’t know. Clearly he is making progress.
Here are some pics.
Where to Buy the Books
I bought it from 幼福‘s 168 Books website as late as 2016. But it looks like it’s out of print now. Anson Books seem to have it in stock but for $2990 NT. You will probably need to dig around and ask various book sellers and distributors to see if they have it in stock.
Here’s a listing of all the book titles:
1聖誕禮物 2游泳訓練班 3動物教室 4全新的生活 5美麗的花園
6流浪貓 7千里緝兇 8化裝舞會 9學校的一天 10火車旅行
11飛行見聞 12河岸風光 13小廚師
14美妙的音符 15芭蕾舞星 16山中見聞 17母親節 18池塘歷險
19稻草人 20小小鳥兒要回家 21公園樂趣多 22快樂的一天 23生病的時候
24成長的喜悅 25花園裡的秘密 26叢林王子
27卡迪與我 28季節的衣裳 29小木屋 30農家樂 31海邊的一天
32暑假生活 33神奇魔法 34銀色聖誕 35飛天熱氣球 36農場假期
37花車遊行 38橫渡大西洋 39特別的禮物
40老爺車大賽 41巴比失蹤 42小騎士 43馬戲團之夢 44郊外遊蹤
45樓上的遊戲 46帆船夏令營 47班班的家 48小鎮風光 49小媽媽
50奇怪的鄰居 51快樂單車 52遊生日禮物