Hubert Shrubb takes charge: Sue Graves

Good afternoon readers, and happy Wednesday to you all. Something a little different compared to yesterdays ‘classic.’ Although currently reading a number including ‘Of Mice and Men’ which I managed to avoid during English Literature lessons and The Popular Girl by one of my favourite authors Fitzgerald, I am going to be splitting them up with more contemporary fiction. Today another ‘children’s book’ although this one is for an older age group than I normally review however I thought it was a good tale with some good thought behind it. Thank you for Publishing Push for the copy and without further ado onto the review.

When Hubert Shrubb has to leave his expensive prep school to go to the local village school, he feels that his world has collapsed. His new headteacher, Mr Cogsworthy, seems to be as mad as a box of frogs and the kids take delight in mocking Hubert’s posh ways. The only ray of sunshine is Miss Lamb, his teacher. One day, however, the children learn that she must leave the school and everyone is upset, none more so than Hubert. He decides it’s time to show his amazing leadership skills and save Miss Lamb. However he soon discovers this is much harder than thought….

So as the blurb suggests, the book follows Hubert who’s family have recently fallen from their lofty wealthy status and has found himself in the local village school. Not taught Latin and having to bring in packed lunches for their ‘dinner’ Hubert finds himself a little over-whelmed. Whilst finding his feet the other pupils ridicule him and due to this he finds it impossibly hard to fit in. Until he finds Miss Lamb in tears at her desk, with a little investigation he finds she is to leave the school due to a lack of students and therefore a lack of fees to pay her wages. Hubert rounds up the students and together they put together a plan to save the teachers job and pay her wages despite the difficult Mr Cogsworthy.

Okay, so first things first this is a very sweet story revolving around compassionate students fighting for a teacher who may be able to teach them a thing or two. The story is well written and moves with pace, it only takes us a couple of pages to find that Hubert is moving to the new school and then straight into the action at the new school. I liked the notable differences made between the prep school and the local village school, which helped to create contrast between the two bands of student. The characters are well described and although a short story managed to get in a number of good character profiles. Hubert is well to do, but learns quickly and is both polite and respectful of adults, the rest of the children including Angie and Mark although wary of Hubert and his ways are slowly turned to like the main character whilst supporting their own traits.

The plot weaves a little, and has a couple of adversities that the children help to over-come, lead by the sweet natured Hubert. In terms of believability it is a little difficult to believe that a handful of children could raise the money to cover the wages of a school teacher on the backs of their parents and a couple of volunteers however this is only a minor thought. It’s a sweet story but I did think it might be edging towards a little implausible and although children’s books should notably have a moral this one being, I assume, that you can do anything you put your mind too, it did start to push this. However a very sweet story, a quick read and a wonderful challenge for a younger child. Rather lovely.

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Quiet Boy : Tom Kavanagh

Good Afternoon wonderful readers! I speak about the fact that I review all genres of book quite regularly here on mylittlebookblog, and so far, in a year and a half blogging I am yet to turn someone away in their request for a review. Before I started blogging I stuck to reading only genres that I enjoyed as we all do, but I wanted to read more diverse genres and mylittlebookblog has opened a door in that sense. I also love that I get to review children’s books because my childhood was filled with reading and any books that can give a child the love of reading that I gained from the adventures I read about need to be shared. I actually approached the author Tom Kavanagh on Twitter, which is something I’m using more and more as a communication tool with authors and offered a review. So thank you to Tom for taking up my offer because I rather enjoyed this lovely little book.

I actually think that children’s books are really difficult to write because there needs to be a balance between interesting language, a story, and something that’s going to keep the reader entertained. Books can be a little over-whelming and as a child I remember books that just didn’t hook me or didn’t teach me anything. This cannot be said for this book. The story follows Quiet Boy (nick-named QB) who is a little different. A shy and sensitive character, his worried parents send him away to a camp for children that need a little help finding their feet in the world. Filled with anxiety and worry QB meets up with his Grandfather and the two decide that whilst he is away QB will recount his adventure in letters to his dear Grandfather. Once at the camp QB meets two very special characters, Rose and Tim and the three of them create their own three musketeer like friendship. The story follows the trials and tribulations of the three characters and the difficulties they face in interacting with different people and taking part in different team-building tasks. The story, told in letters to his Grandfather follows this lovely character as he finds his feet, and his voice in a very special coming of age story.

One of the things I liked most about the book were the character profiles; QB is sensitive and nervous, but from the start you feel for him because he has such a strong moral core. The writing style really plays on the concern and unease that QB is feeling in this new situation and the author handles it with great care. Rose or fidget girl as she is nicknamed, is a self-assured but is also a character that frets. Her assured personality mixed with her need to fidget created a very well-balanced character which also helps to bring out QB’s character. Tim (aerial boy because he likes planes) is the least developed out of the three in terms of character building, but his sense of humour added another contrast helping to create distinction between the two males characters because they are quite similar.

The story also pushes a very ethical message throughout the book that wasn’t overplayed or made too obvious but just kept weaving through. It is also looked at what can happen when you stray from doing the right thing but in such a way that didn’t affect the characters too negatively. Also by adding in an nasty character, found in the form of the bully Rory it lead to some interesting choices for the characters that helped to keep the moral theme continuing throughout. I also loved the idea that they were each their own superhero struggling to find their way and think that this book could really help any readers that are struggling a little with finding their path in life. The ending is always very lovely and warming (although a little upsetting) and rounds of the book really nicely which is always a good thing.

I did have a few comments on the book, firstly it did become a little repetitive and I think it’s because of the form of the letters, that do really work but at times I did feel that it needed something more. It wasn’t that I tired of the book I just thought that it might not hold the reader’s attention as much as it could. I also think some of the events could have been played up more to create more suspense such QB’s difficulty with the group tasks and Rose’s difficulties when playing her part as Blousey in the performance. I think a little more colour in the events would have helped to create more drama and suspense and would have countered the repetitive nature of the letters. Linking to this I think because of the use of the letters, the book lacked description to draw the reader in and I think a little more would have helped to enhance the events happening in the book but I understand that this isn’t always possible.

As a whole this is a lovely coming of age story that has a real message throughout and could really help readers that are potentially struggling through growing up. I think it did get a little repetitive however the strong character profiles and the use of contrasting events helps to counter this and make the story more exciting. A really lovely story and one I would definitely recommend!