REVIEWER: ANITA KOVACEVIC
RATING: GOLD BOOKWORM
It is not easy nowadays to find a nice, clean, yet fun and intriguing children’s book for young teenagers, which has enough of a twist to peak their interest without being over-encumbered with technology and social networks. I was so happy when I received this book as a gift in exchange for a sincere review, because I truly like it and see its potential. I found myself giggling at the thought that it was a Sunday, so I was able to gobble it all up in one read. Spoken both as a teacher who works with children and teenagers, and a mother of a teenager, I can say that this is one of those books children would love to read!
Setting the scene on a big countryside estate, owned by the grandparents of Taya’s best friend, with the announcement of a shared teenage birthday party in the nature, is enough to get the children’s joy juices flowing. Despite the gadgets and screens, children still relish at the thought of running around free, splashing from a tyre swing directly into a clear river, endlessly chatting and screaming with their pals at the top of their voices, and not worrying about upsetting their neighbours or getting dirty. And yes, they do like do get involved in preparing their own birthday parties, decorating, planning and choosing who to invite!
Sneaking into this blissful scene hints of a family mystery, which Taya simply must solve, is exactly the spice which will keep the chldren reading! I have to be careful not to let on any spoilers, but perhaps just a few hints? Children detectives, a pet python snake, a seemingly nice friend of the family and a black-sheep uncle imprisoned (wrongly?)… Got you interested? And here’s more – the teenage detectives have to think outside the box, use any and all resources available to them, and react on impulse, working as a team, or else their lives… ooops, can’t say more! You will have to read it for yourself and/or let your child read it!
Both girls and boys will love the story, because Taya and her best friend Chris work together, bouncing off ideas and balancing each other’s crazy ideas, but have complete trust in each other. There is no magic up their sleeves or wands, no superhero powers, no time travelling; only the good old friendship, brains and good team work! I am so glad Taya Bayliss is a series, because I know plenty of girls who would ove to read about her, and (why not?) even watch it as a children’s TV-series.
The writer’s style is really nice and flowing, with just enough of complexity in the vocabulary and syntax to make it an excellent read for schools, even language schools aspiring to have their students read literature in English. There is even a brief comprehension quiz at the end of the story, although the story itself lends itself to all kinds of creative reading and writing projects one could do with learners.
The story teaches children to be inquisitive and careful, to trust their feelings, to overcome their fears, to be loyal to friends and family, and not to give up. And it doesn’t preach at all! I recommend this book to children (young teenagers) and educators with all my heart!
Other titles by E J Gore – Click on an image to learn more.