My review of “A Boy Called Hope” by Lara Williamson.


£6.99 Usborne Booktrailer

Lara Williamson’s “A Boy Called Hope” tells the story of Dan Hope, an eleven year old boy, who wants his Dad to love him. After Dan’s Dad walked out when he was seven, he’s been muddling along just fine. But seeing his Dad on TV prompts Dan to try to contact his father and re-establish their relationship. His mouthy older sister “Ninja Grace” reads the complexities of adult life differently, and is always ready with full-on verbal combat:

Ninja Grace wasn’t always Ninja Grace, by the way. Once upon a time she was as normal as a sister could be. But all that changed when she turned thirteen. That’s when she turned into a word ninja. By the way, a word ninja is someone who uses words as a weapon.

Mum is busy working at Aladdin’s Supermarket to make ends meet, and has a new boyfriend, Big Dave. Dan quite likes him, but Ninja Grace has a theory about Big Dave (stemming from a certain tattoo), that leads to a tricky situation. At school Dan has other worries. His friend Jo gives him a silver medal: of Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. She tells him to write a list of ten things he’d like to happen, so that Saint Gabriel would read it, and make the wishes come true. Dan tries to get back in touch with his Dad, and waits for his reply…

This is a very funny and entertaining read, which Year 5 and 6 pupils will enjoy. There’s  loads of humour throughout and lots of amusing everyday situations that kids will readily identify with. The main plot tugs at your heart strings, but the way that it’s told has you laughing out loud. Written in the first person, present tense it captures Dan’s voice perfectly, but maintains a humorous and entertaining narrative through the book. I especially liked Lara Williamson’s fresh, poetic imagery; often with a humorous air.

My eyeballs bulge like they’re bursting out of a super squishy mesh ball. Busty Babs is dressed as a beautiful ladybird, in a red and black polka-dot dress. It’s so clingy you can tell what she’s eaten for lunch (apparently nothing more than a grape). Sheets of blonde hair cascade to her shoulders and she breaks into an easy smile, displaying teeth that could be mistaken for a string of creamy pearls.

This book explores family relationships, school friendships and reflects the complexities of modern life for kids today. A certain amount of maturity is required to understand some of the issues, and to be patient enough to piece together all the parts of the story at the ending (she keeps you dangling-which is great!). It tackles some difficult topics for children separated from a loved one in an un-condescending, yet optimistic, upbeat manner.

An immensely enjoyable read!

Pippa Wilson

24th August 2014

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