Of all the primary school reading scheme books (Janet and John, Peter and Jane, Ant and Bee) the best loved (and therefore, presumably, most effective) were EJ Arnold and Sons’ Griffin and Dragon pirate stories. Written by Sheila K McCullagh and illustrated with Mary Geraut’s lush watercolours, the simple sentences detailed the maritime adventures of Benjamin the Blue (the blonde, dashing hero), Roderick the Red (hearty, slightly stout) and Gregory the Green (lanky, slightly devious), sailing away to sea in search of colour-coded gemstones, encountering merpeople and griffins along the way. The threesome’s uneasy co-existence often fell apart as Benjamin, initially, was the one with the ship, and the others, being pirates and all, kept trying to nick it. The later Dragon series took things a stage further, with black pirates, seahorses and The Princess Who Wanted the Moon. It was all a delightful way to escape the confines of a rain-battered classroom of a Wednesday afternoon. With your fingers under the words, of course.