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Boy Underwater

Boy Underwater

Adam Baron
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780008267018


Cymbeline Igloo (yes, really!) has never been swimming. This is where the story starts, but in reality, it started many years before. The trouble is, it is a story that Cymbeline himself does not know. After an accident at the swimming pool Cymbeline and his friends have to unravel the past to find out why he has never been taken swimming before.



This book is very hard to categorise, it is both sad and funny at the same time. It is also really difficult to tell which subtext the reader will pick up because they are adult and which bits will go over a child's head. Written by an author of adult novels, Adam Baron apparently wrote this for children because his own children told him to! The illustrator, Benji Davies should also get a mention here- his lovely illustrations are scattered throughout the book and really add to the story.



The children in the story are both eccentric and completely believable. Cymbeline's friends all have different issues, from Lance who has two sets of parents, to the over achieving Veronique. The voice of Cymbeline narrating the story, is also authentic; though I suspect many children these days would have worked some of the secrets out before he does - he is slightly too innocent for a modern child!



My conundrum with this book has nothing to do with how good it is - which it is - I enjoyed it. It is more to do with whether I want Primary aged children to be reading about something that is so very sad. The mental breakdown of Cymbeline's mother is very realistic; I experienced something similar with a close family member as a child and it is not necessarily something I want children to have to read about whilst they are still young.



The whole premise of the story is sad and loss overshadows the entire book and is only revealed at the end. Currently the jury is out as to whether I shall be encouraging my own ten-year-old to read this book!



256 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher.


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