Customer Reviews & Testimonials

An Amazing Circus of Phonograms Act 1

My daughter is six and learning to read.

An Amazing Circus of Phonograms: Act 1 is a book by Mary Jo Nyssen that won First Place in the Purple Dragonfly Book Award. This book tells a story, but within the story, students learn the sounds that certain phonograms make. There are 22 phonograms that are covered in the story: the five differently spelled “er” sounds—er, ir, ur, ear, and wor, and the other 17, sh, ee, th, ay, ow, ou, oa, oy, oi, aw, au, ew, ui, oo, ch, and ea. Each phonogram is written in a different color within the word so that it stands out. Nyssen colors the phonogram purple if it only has one sound. If the phonogram has more than one sound, the first sound is green, the second is red, the third is blue, the fourth is orange, and the fifth is yellow. 

This book is the second in a trilogy. The first book, A Colorful Journey through the Land of Talking Letters, introduces the first 26 letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Ideally, parents will start with the first book before moving on to this book. When using this book, parents can simply read it to their children, and through repetition, students will pick up the sounds that the phonograms make. This book is ideal for the reader who has progressed through the first book. The recommended age is 6+.

This book is for any child, whether the child is homeschooled or attends school.

My daughter is six and learning to read. She enjoyed both the story in this book and the colorful pictures and letters. Later, when we were working together on reading, she recognized one of the phonograms covered in the story and told me that sound had been in the book we read together.

This book is very long to read in one sitting. If attempting to do so, your child likely wouldn’t get the full impact of the story and phonogram lessons. This book might be better to read in small pieces, such as a few pages a day. You’ll also want to start with the beginning of the series, especially with emerging readers.

Nyssen’s book, An Amazing Circus of Phonograms, makes learning to read fun. Most children will enjoy this book and learn from it, which parents will appreciate.

Melissa Batai
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC

Writer's Digest Review

23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Entry Title An Amazing Circus of Phonograms Act 1

Author: Mary Jo Nyssen

Judge Number: 97

Entry Category: Poetry

Judge’s Commentary*:

In An Amazing Circus of Phonograms by Mary Jo Nyssen and Mike Motz, we are presented with a delightful romp through a literal circus that helps teach children as they also enjoy the blend of vibrant illustrations and breezy fun descriptions that impart a bit of knowledge along with humor. The title seems to this reader to be a little too exact—maybe not as quite a fun as the rest of the book, and I would have preferred something that more clearly evoked the theme and tone of the collection overall.

The book is structured well, taking readers on a learning journey that helps them understand an often misunderstood and difficult concept. The overall design of the book is fantastic. The illustrations are conceived well, and have a great feel to them, and they are reproduced well so that each page is really a visual feast. Overall, the writing is the perfect complement to this. We learn rules in a clear and simple manner, while then having them demonstrated in a way that is always slightly silly and memorable. Toad and Goat in their oak boat is a particular favorite, one where the learning isn’t forced but is part and parcel with the story unfolding.

Judge’s Commentary
Writer's Digest Review

Mary Jo's books

Mary Jo's books, A Colorful Journey Through the Land of Talking Letters, and An Amazing Circus of Phonograms - Act 1, have been a great way to introduce letters and sounds in a fun and interesting way. My Kindergarteners love the different stories and listening for the sounds.

Kristen Mikilas
Kindergarten Teacher

Mary Jo has done it again!

My kids fell in love with your first book, and now have already begged me to read the second one. We read 2-4 pages a day. Each page is a mini story of its own centered around a sound. We started it as soon as we brought it home! I look forward to the next one!

Patricia Tharp
Amazon Review

Picture Books-Early Reader
One of 20 finalists and there were 1,500 entries in this category.
Purple Dragonfly award
for picture book ages 6 & up