BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
This week marks the publication of Jennifer Bell's new middle grade adventure, Wonderscape (available here). Read on for a review of the book, followed by a blog post about past and present heroes, like the ones who inspired the story.
Book Title: Wonderscape (available here)
Author: Jennifer Bell
Publication Date: June 2020
Most Suitable For: Y4-6
Reviewed By: Emma Rogers
Have you ever imagined travelling through portals to new times and places?
In this novel, three unsuspecting teenagers, Arthur, Ren and Cecily, unexpectedly find themselves in a mysterious house. Suddenly one doorway disappears and another opens. In this fast-paced, exciting book, the three children slowly learn to trust and help each other, working as an unlikely team to solve different challenges in each of the realms in which they find themselves. The three children prove to be intriguing heroes. Each has their own flaws and insecurities but rise to the challenges, finding skills and strengths they didn’t know they had. It is good to have 2 more strong female role models to add to the growing list - but Arthur too proves that strength can be found in all children – even a scrawny boy in a second-hand school uniform.
I was hooked from the first chapter. The book reminds me of the fantasy adventure books I used to read as a child. But, the futuristic setting of the book has a strong injection of 25th century living with elements of computer games and some very weird and wonderful technological advances thrown in for good measure. The Wondercloaks, in particular, were an inspired invention. I’d love one of these fabric Wondercloaks which read your moods and project beautiful images both inside and outside!
There is little preamble and no lengthy descriptions in the book. The action begins very quickly and would work well to engage reluctant readers. Any book which begins with the line ‘It was early morning and Arthur was already running late for school when the gnomes exploded’ is set to be full of surprises! And it doesn’t disappoint as each realm the three travellers visit throws new challenges at them in the search for the man who can get them home.
This is an exciting and action-packed read that shows us the value of teamwork and persistence.
Blog Tour: Heroes Past and Present
In the story, three children find themselves in the future, inside an in-reality-game called The Wonderscape. Working as a team, the children have to find their way through the game’s riddles in order to escape and save the day.
The tasks in the Wonderscape are all set up by historical heroes including:
- Sir Isaac Newton, the extraordinary scientist who discovered gravity
- Tomoe Gozen, admired twelfth century samurai warrior
- Mary Shelley, celebrated author of Frankenstein
- Wangari Maathai, inspirational environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner
Author Jennifer Bell was inspired to weave the historical heroes into the story partly because of the incredible people that inspire her, but also for "the heroes of tomorrow” - the children reading her books, because she wants her readers to know that they can be anything they want and that they possess the power to become heroes too.
To celebrate the launch of Wonderscape, the publishers at Walker have invited us to share a past and present hero of our own (and because we're BooksForTopics, we've added a book recommendation to find out more about each one too!).
Past Hero: Florence Nightingale
Name: Florence Nightingale
Level theme: Prevent the spread of infections!
Hero factor: Attention to detail – Florence realised that the conditions of the hospital made a very real difference to the patients and their recovery. Her influence raised awareness of the need for cleanliness, bedding, nutritious hospital food and trained nurses.
Present Hero: Malala Yousafzai
Level theme: Campaign for girls’ education
Hero factor: Resilience – Malala campaigned for girls’ education despite being targetted by extremist soldiers. She continued her campaigns and set up the Malala Fund, aiming to help girls around the world to access an education.
Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai & Kerascoët (available here)
Follow along with the blog tour this week to read about more heroes past and present.
Many thanks to the publishers at Walker for sending us a review copy.
Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.