So you may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet here at mrdaviesreads over the last few months. After a myriad of ICT problems (involving server issues, broken laptops and lightning strikes, among other things), I’m happy to say we’re back up and running. One of the main advantages of this quiet time is that I’ve had plenty of time to read!
With the current heatwave, the best way to kick-start is to look at some water-themed books that have been released over the last few months.
Splash – Charli Howard
Molly is in her final year of primary school and lives for swimming. She dreams of being an Olympic swimmer and can think of nothing else. That is until her best friend Chloe tries to make her give up her dreams by teasing her about her body. Unable to give up her dreams, Molly continues to practice in secret. At the same time, the reappearance of her long-lost mother threatens to tear Molly’s life apart; should she fit in with her mum and friends or follow her life-long hopes?
First and foremost, I want to get books into the hands of children. They are the ultimate judge of books and Splash has gone down a storm with my current class. The girl who loves swimming flew through it. Since then, it has been through the hands of numerous girls. Every one of them cannot speak highly enough of the book – it strikes a chord with them all.
Why? Because it is written in their world. Every girl who has read it can empathize with Molly for one reason or another. Perhaps they have an overpowering ‘best’ friend. Or maybe they aren’t confident with their body image. Some may have parents they rarely see. These issues are dealt with in a way that children can understand and relate to. For some it’s brought about a realization that they are not alone with their worries.
By the end the message is clear: be yourself. This is a fantastic book for those children at the top end of primary school.
**Thank you to Clare at Nosy Crow for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.**
Song of Dolphin Boy – Elizabeth Laird
Finn struggles to fit in. This is compounded by the fact that he lives on a remote Scottish island with only a few other children. He lives with his dad, a retired fisherman who now hates the sea and rarely leaves the house. To add to his woes, there are rumours around the village that his dad may have murdered his mum. Then one day everything changes. Finn realises he is different, but that he can use this to help others.
It tackles the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans; something which has been at the forefront of our attention recently. In this book, the focus is on the devastation that balloons can cause to sea animals. The message is loud and clear though, we have all (almost unwittingly) been part of the problem, yet everyone has the capability to bring about change. This is definitely an important message for children.
This was a delightful quick read. Contained within the pages are tales of selkies, fused with the well-told tale of trying to fit in. A great book for children in aged 8 and above.
Boy Underwater – Adam Baron
Illustrated by Benji Davies
Cymbeline has never been swimming before, but how hard can it be? When Cymbeline is challenged to a race during a school swimming lesson, he turns to Google and learns how to swim. When the inevitable accident happens, a chain of events begins to unfold. With the help of old friends (and new), Cymbeline sets out to uncover the truth, discovering some uncomfortable secrets about his family on the way.
This book has had a lot of publicity over recent months, mainly after being picked as the Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month for June. It is a book that has the ability to have you crying with despair only pages after crying with laughter. Adam Baron does not shy away from some big issues such as mental health, family breakdown and bullying, yet also fills the book with plentiful heart-warming moments.
I can see why Boy Underwater has gained so many plaudits. It tugs at your hearts strings throughout, and has a nice little adventure to keep your turning the pages. The beginning had me hooked and the final twist is heart-wrenchingly brilliant. Yet for me, there are little niggles as characters and sub-plots come and go especially in the middle section – a comment echoed by a young reader. Still, this is an intriguing book that many children in their final years at primary school will enjoy.
**Thank you to Laura Smythe and HarperCollins for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review**