Above and Beyond is the latest book in the children’s series featuring 10yr old (wannabe cheerleader) Charlie Chance, her family and her besties Bella and Laura.
Ostensibly the book is about a father-daughter camping trip… something which freaks Charlie out a little as her own father has to pull out at the last minute. So, it’s not only the first time she’s tried camping, but also the first time she’s been away from her family for a few nights.
Thankfully she’s with friends and their fathers but the unexpected inclusion of an older ‘troubled’ boy complicates things.
It gives Charlie a chance however, to put into practice something her father’s talked about… the need to go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty in order to help others.
The lesson’s pretty obvious to this 47 year old, but the message is spelled out a number of times throughout the book which targets 7-11 year olds.
I liked the fact that this book—indeed this series—by Leanne Shea Langdown educates as well as entertains. Leanne explains that each book has an inspirational theme.
I’m a success consultant (life coach) and I am always amazed that adults don’t have access to some of basic motivational tips and tricks. I figured it would be great for children to absorb these at a grass roots level.
Above and Beyond is the seventh in the Cheer Chick Charlie series, inspired by Leanne’s own daughter’s dream to become a cheerleader. As it’s still a fledgling sport in Australia, Leanne was involved in starting a squad at her daughter’s school seven years ago.
I discovered that the sport was not only helping kids with their team work, fitness and health, but the values we threaded through it was also helping with their confidence, resilience and enthusiasm.
Obviously I’m no expert in children’s literature (or anything really…) but the books seem ideal for pre-teens. The books are all about 100-130 pages in length and feature large (14 font) print—perfect for young eyes. Or older eyes after several pre-bedtime wines!
Charlie could easily morph into a smug ‘too good to be true’ caricature, but she’s written in a way that it’s impossible not to like her honesty and positive outlook.
Leanne does a good job of sharing Charlie’s thoughts (her hopes and fears) in a way that seems comforting to young readers. When Charlie is chastised by her friend’s father for wandering off she gets upset before rationalising it…
“Be calm, she said to herself. It’s OK, you’re not really in trouble. They were just worried about you. They’re right. You should have told someone where you were going. They’re not being mean. They’re just being parents.” p39
Similarly when Charlie talks to her mother via phone and tells her she’s homesick Mrs Chance is able to tell her that it’s normal to get homesick and that adults do as well.
There are actually a few messages in Above and Beyond, including the fact that success doesn’t always involve winning the prize. As I said, these are obvious to adults but undoubtedly more subtle when applied to young minds.
Other themes to feature in the series include: being committed and believing your dreams are possible; recognising that we all have unique strengths; and a reminder that facing challenges and/or difficult people can mean we ultimately become braver and stronger as a result.
From a commercial and marketing point of view, I’m impressed at series’ branding; and my book arrived with a postcard and wristband. Leanne explains this is to help readers remember what Charlie learned in that particular story.
The Cheer Chick Charlie website is also a great resource for kids and the adults in their lives. There are puzzles to download and games to play. And for the kids there’s… #joking
There’s also some great Cheer Chick Charlie and cheerleading merchandise available on the site, as well as information about author events and how to buy the books. Even better there’s an app to download which will apparently help
me (ahem) youngsters learn to be a cheerleader.
Leanne says that kids as young as 5 are enjoying the books and she gets a lot of testimonials from parents who say Charlie is a great fix for children who’ve had a hard day. After all, she says…
I think we all need cheerleaders in our life. People to motivate, inspire, encourage and support.
More information about this series featuring Cheer Chick Charlie by Leanne Shea Langdown is available via the website.
I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. Thanks also to Leanne for spending the time on my insightful and probing questions. 🙂
As it’s Friday I’m flogging my blog With Some Grace.