I always thought I would educate my littles in much the same way as I have my older children, but the reality is very different. Finding something which holds the attention of my seven-year old (in particular) and her four-year old sister has been a challenge. Andrew Lost did just that last year.
Andrew Lost as a Read Aloud
I bought these books to try out with A7 (6 at the time) at bedtime last year. I felt she needed something more to stretch her mind but not anything formal. These books fit the bill perfectly.
Andrew Dubble is a ten-year old who has been inventing since he was four. These books chart his adventures trying out his inventions which invariably have something wrong with them. Judy, his cousin, is thirteen and joins him, along with his trusty robot sidekick THUDD (The Handy Ultra-Digital Detective).
These books are part fact and part science fiction and held the attention of both my four-year old and my seven-year old. THUDD talks like a two year old, which could be irritating except I read his voice to sound much like a Dalek from Dr Who, which delighted the children and made his character a bit more fun for me to read. The text is littered with expressions such as ‘cheese Louise!’ which had my two in stitches throughout, with both of them instantly copying the accent and intonation.
The best thing about these books though is their propensity to encourage the children to beg (yes, beg) me to look up on the computer what was being talked about. Let me explain.
Andrew Lost on the Dog
The first four books concentrate on Andrew, Thudd and Judy trying out Andrew’s new ‘Atom-Sucker’. The Atom-Sucker sucks the air out between atoms and shrinks things to a micro-size. In the first book, Andrew and co. are accidentally shrunk and end up on the dog. What follows are some incredibly silly yet highly interesting antics on the surface of the dog (Andrew Lost #1: On the Dog), in the bathroom when the dog they are on has a bath (Andrew Lost #2: In the Bathroom), in the Kitchen when they find themselves being washed down the bath plug hole and travelling through the drain system in the house, eventually finding their way to the kitchen sink (In the Kitchen (Andrew Lost)) and finally back out into the garden (Andrew Lost #4: In the Garden), where they eventually, just in the nick of time, get turned back to their normal size when the Atom-Sucker reverses the shrinkage. The pencil drawings in the book make a handy colouring in activity:
The four books focus on the micro life around us, which we do not generally get to experience on account of it being too small. We learnt about eye-lash mites (the dog had them, and apparently so do we – who knew?), nose hair, fungi, bacteria slime, ants..I could go on. Each book is packed with loads of information about a microscopic world my girls had no idea existed.
Each night I would read a few more chapters and the next morning both girls would be nagging to look up one thing or another. Handily the author has a website, although it does not seem to be maintained any more. It does, however, focus only on the first couple of books and contains many more fun facts about the microscopic world, as well as many electron microscope images of the things Andrew and Judy encountered in the books. We also used Microlife (Inside Guides) which they could flick through whenever they wanted.
These first four books introduced a whole new world to the little ones which they had no idea existed.
Andrew Lost Under Water
The next four books the trio find themselves in the ocean after attempting to make repairs to Uncle Al’s latest invention – a submarine type water bug (Andrew Lost #5: Under Water). We particularly enjoyed these four books because of all the information about sea life. Andrew and co experience life in the ocean at normal size. Whilst they are searching for the very rare giant octopus, they end up in the stomach of a whale (Andrew Lost #6: In the Whale), see under water volcanos (Andrew Lost #8: In the Deep) and spend time in the Great Barrier Reef (Andrew Lost #7: On the Reef).
Again I read these at night-time and spent much of the next day looking up various things on the internet to give my information hungry little girls ever more information about everything they had encountered in the books the night before.
In the end I bought them a scrap-book each and they spent many happy hours printing out a collection of pictures and information about whatever I had read about.
Andrew Lost in Time
The next four books were about Andrew, Judy and Thudd’s adventure back in time. They are aboard their Uncle Al’s Time-A-Tron attempting to rescue their Uncle from the Ice age. When something goes wrong with the Time-A-Tron, they find themselves billions of years before at the birth of the planet (Andrew Lost in Time, Andrew Lost #10: On Earth).
During the four books they spend time with the dinosaurs (Andrew Lost #11: With the Dinosaurs) as well as finding their Uncle Al in the Ice-Age (Andrew Lost in the Ice Age)
These were my least favourite four because of the discrepancies between what we believe as Christians and what was described by these books. We didn’t do any go along activities with these, although the dinosaur one was a useful introduction to the dinosaur unit we are doing this term.
Andrew Lost in the Garbage
We have not read the final six books, because to be honest I was rather put off by the last four. That said, I have them in my Amazon Basket to possibly buy in the future. The next four books are about Andrew’s adventures in the garbage (Andrew Lost in the Garbage (Andrew Lost (Prebound))), with the bats (Andrew Lost with the Bats), in the jungle (Andrew Lost in the Jungle), in Uncle Al (Andrew Lost #16: In Uncle Al), in the frogs (Andrew Lost with the Frogs) and finally in the desert (Andrew Lost in the Desert)
I would highly recommend the first eight books. They are a gentle introduction to the scientific world and perfect for children who need a little something more but are not quite ready for a formal curriculum.