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The Ice Cream Machine by Julie Bertagna is a book which my seven year old son brought home as a guided free reader. I’d never come across it before, but he has thoroughly enjoyed reading it to me, and I loved listening to him reading it. It’s a very strong book, perfect for a guided free reader, and would make a wonderful book to read in class with children.


The book tells the story of the Potts family. Mr and Mrs. Potts who are always looking for the next scheme which will get them rich, and their two children Wendy and Wayne.


The Potts have just had to abandon their idea of running a successful goat farm, leaving them with only one pet goat, Gina, who spends her life eating their furniture and getting herself into trouble.  Their next venture is going to be the renovation of a dilapidated old ice cream van and the creation of some rather eccentric ice cream flavours.


The ice cream van turns out to be magical, and have a mind of its own. The book charts the adventures of the family with the ice cream van, and their ridiculous goat, culminating in an exciting night time trip to the sea side and a dramatic rescue scenario.


The book has some wonderfully humorous moments which will tickle the children’s funny bones. It has some nice black and white illustrations which break up the text. The chapters are quite long for a transitional book, but the text is well spaced out on the page, the font is clear and easy to read and the book is perfectly manageable for a newly independent reader who needs to be stretched, but is not quite ready for a full blown novel yet.


The book is suitable for both boys and girls, and I would recommend it as a book to read to children from about the age of five upwards. I would recommend it to independent readers from the age of seven to ten. It may be a little babyish for older readers. Twelve is the absolute upper limit I would recommend.