Regular readers will know I don’t often review children’s books. As I don’t have kids myself and am subjected to very few ( 😉 ), I don’t really know what they do or don’t like.
I had intended to co-opt my 8yr old godson Pickle to assist with this review as the author of Fred Do-it’s Wacky Plan Really Fails, Graham Bebington is the librarian at his school, but I haven’t been able to pin him (my godson, not Mr Bebington) down. It’s Pickle’s birthday month you see – so he’s distracted (and sick) – though he was able to give me some feedback in between party-planning excitement.Fred Do-it's Wacky Plan Really Fails
by Graham Bebington
Published by Self-published
on June 17th 2019
Fred Do-it had a plan. But what happens when plans go horribly wrong? Join Fred Do-it on his amazing adventure to write a story about himself. Look out for dangerous bumpires and strange places where everything is completely wacky.
I struggle to review kids’ books as they’re so different to adult fiction. I mean, one cannot really comment on pacing of the narrative or contemplate plot-holes. (As an aside, I’m the same re non-fiction!)
I grew up in the era of Enid Blyton so the fact I spent my days dreaming of travelling lands above a tree^ or via a wishing chair means I get that kids’ books should be fun and fuel the imagination. Non-sensical and laced with whimsy.
I was a big reader as a kid (as was my brother, so it was obviously encouraged by our parents) and think it’s important to offer children and teens books they will enjoy. I know friends sometimes say getting their kids to read ANYTHING can be a challenge. So, for me it’s about making sure reading is fun and NOT a chore. (And the same thing goes for adult reading fodder, which is why genre-fiction snobbery annoys the crap out of me.)
As he’s a librarian, Graham Bebington (Mr B, as he’s known to his students) KNOWS what kids read. He’s happy, he said, so many kids come into the library to borrow or read the Diaries of a Wimpy Kid or the Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse books. I actually don’t know what either of those series involve, but have heard of them so know they’re popular.
Mr B is passionate about kids’ literacy and encouraging them to read so wanted to write something he knew kids would like. And quite frankly – though I don’t know what kids’ books usually entail nowadays – even I’m conscious Fred’s antics reflect every kid’s fantasies.
It’s essentially about Fred who’s writing his own book, though potentially missing its ending. (Obviously we adults can see the whole… ‘it’s the journey not the destination’ analogy here and of course the book wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the stuff that happens as it unfolds. ie. The writing of the book IS the book. #ifthatmakessense)
Teachers and adults are banned in this book. There are machines that do your homework (you should have seen my godson’s eyes sparkle when he read that bit!) and of course there are journeys to other lands, well books.
I went to the launch (at Books by the Sea in Hervey Bay) and Mr B talked about the rather complicated creative process he went through when writing the book. He wanted to include enough text to give kids an enjoyable reading challenge but also wanted illustrations on every page, so he basically learned how to use software and created the book on a tablet.
His drawings are far from perfect he said, but he’s discovered that kids don’t actually mind if characters’ feet aren’t a consistent size or if their necks are disproportionate to their body.
He mentioned to me later he’s since picked up a few mistakes (and I won’t comment on any errant or absent apostrophes cos I’m a grammar nazi).
I can’t comment on whether the language is appropriate for the target age group, though my godson tells me his friends are enjoying it. And from this adult’s point of view it does seem to offer up some fun exploits and well…. Mr B uses the word ‘bum’ quite a bit in one chapter about ‘bum gas’ which boys seem to find hysterically funny.
I felt some of the book was perhaps written a little tongue in cheek – to entertain the parents are well – as I wasn’t sure kids would get some of the droll humour but it made me smirk in places.
Fred Do-it’s Wacky Plan Really Fails by Graham Bebington is now available. Check out Mr B’s website to see where to get copies.
I received a copy of the book from the author for review purposes.
** I don’t give children’s books ratings **
^As a complete aside, I only recently realised Dr Who is just an adult version of The Faraway Tree!?