by NIGEL HINTON
Reviewed by Miss B
STAR RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
RECOMMENDED YEAR GROUP: 3/4
INTERESTS: animals, nature, adventure, magic
THEMES: family, friendship, good versus evil, mystery, loyalty
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE:
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann,
Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog by Claire Barker.
MY THOUGHTS: A relatively simple but pacey adventure where a young boy is transported to an island by a magical kite
Phillip is desperate to fly his new kite and sneaks out to fly it by himself. Unknown to him, the kite has been put under a spell by an animal in a distant land in need of help. Once he arrives on the island, Phillip is met by a lively cast of lovable animal friends including Mr. Badger (think slightly eccentric war veteran) and Baby B (naive, clumsy but ultimately brave and loyal). The forest animals have been under siege, ruled by the terrifying Growlers who stampede through the forest on horseback. Phillip eventually becomes an unlikely hero who faces his fears and completes a dangerous quest to save his new friends.
This is a longer text which cleverly uses relatively simple vocabulary to weave intelligent descriptions of characters, setting and emotions. The book is split into short chapters (often only four pages) and features some excellent speech showing personality and dialect, making it perfect for reading aloud to a class. There is enough suspense to make it exciting for more mature Year 4 pupils, but the darker characters are not so imposing as to intimidate Year 3 children. The main character, Phillip, shares a lot of his fears and insecurities with the reader; he is certainly not a typical hero. The book has an older charm about it (written in the 1980s), but its magical setting gives it a timeless quality.
I first read this book as a seven-year-old and recently discovered a copy for my son. Something about it had resonated through the years and I was surprised by how quickly I recalled the characters and forest when reading it again. I used extracts from the book with my Year 3/4 class recently to look at creating interesting characters and moving plot on through speech. They loved it and we have have continued reading it as our shared class text – it’s a great one if you enjoy putting on silly voices! The change of the kite from an ordinary toy to magical object could also be used if looking at transitions.
A charming book, especially to read aloud.