Thursday, 23 February 2017

Flying Fergus #5 The Winning Team by Chris Hoy, Jo Nadin, and Clare Elsom (Children's, 5 years +, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

 23rd February 2017, Piccadilly Press, 128 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Allen & Unwin
The Hercules Hopefuls are through to the final round of the cycling competition, but are facing their toughest test yet - not only must Fergus and his friends beat their arch-rivals Wallace's Winners, but this time they also need to face off against the scariest team in all of Scotland - The Velociraptors, an elite all-girls squad. But disaster strikes the team when Minnie McCloud catches chicken pox and Calamity Coogan breaks his leg, and it looks like their dreams are over. But Wallace's Winners are also in a predicament - can Wesley and Fergus put their rivalry to one side and give both teams a chance at lifting the cup?

Meanwhile, in Nevermore, Fergus must work together with Princess Lily and his friends to save his dad from the clutches of the mean anti-cycling King Woebegot. If he can just manage it, maybe Dad will be back home in time to see him compete in the Finals?

Nayu's thoughts of both the series and book 5. 
  I was asked if I wanted to read book 5, so since I'd heard of Chris and knew next to nothing about bikes I thought I'd give it a go. Piccadilly kindly sent the rest of the series as I hadn't read them, and while I think it's possible to read them out of sequence, reading them one after the other was both a real treat and meant I could see all the story arcs. I genuinely thought this would be a boy focused book, with Fergus as the main character, but happily I'm wrong. I prefer girl centred books, but this series has fine female leads in both Daisy, Minnie, and Princess Lily. 

I love how familiar the characters in the parallel world are, in both appearance and what they say. I think that helped Fergus feel more confident in his decisions in a totally weird land while on the hut for his dad. Initially I was bothered by each story starting the same way, but I can see the repetition is useful for the intended age group and by book 3 I didn't mind. I did mind the poor colour choice of text in book 3 - black on a deep purple background simply doesn't stand out and I found it hard to read. Those are the only issues I had with all the books. 

I enjoyed getting to know Fergus and his friends who try their best for him in both worlds. I loved how his small family helped him out as much as they could, sometimes in unexpected ways. The end of book 5 both was and wasn't what I expected, and made me tear up. I liked how each book followed a similar pattern of having a real world issue that Fergus needed to solve, then he went to Nevermore and had to solve a different issue (which were all aiming towards the same goal), then when he returned to the real world (I don't know what else to call it) he had skills/knowledge to overcome that hurdle. 

Meet Princess Lily!
Princess Lily really shone for me. I love her pretty dress worn with different patterned wellies - I wear odd socks so her welly combo made sense to me. If you look carefully the pattern on her footwear match the pattern on her bike! She thinks around the box, doing what seems crazy but ends up being perfect. She does want to please her parents but also wants to have fun experiencing life for herself. 

I liked the modifications of the bikes in the parallel world, how cycling knowledge is slipped in gradually through all the stories yet isn't boring, and the power of community spirit. Fergus reaches incorrect conclusions several times but so did I. I felt this shows how unpredictable life is. I liked how realistic Fergus's living situation was, coupled with potential council cuts that affected his cycling future. This is a hugely relevant read for everyone, and I do hope Chris and Jo will pair up in the future again as they make a great writing duo, especially with Clare's illustrations!

Find out more about the series on the dedicated website. 
Check out Chris's website, Jo's website, and Clare's website too.

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