Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Hopewell High #1 & #2: Stage Fright and All Too Much by Jo Cotterill (Children's, 9 years +, Dyslexia friendly, 10E/10E)

April 2017, Bloomsbury Education, 80 pages, Paperback, Review copies 

Summary for Stage Fright from Bloomsbury
Alice's parents are having problems and she has the lead in the school play. Can her friends help her to get over her stage fright?

Summary for All Too Much from Bloomsbury
Samira wants to do well, her parents want her to do well, her teachers want her to do well, but the pressure is starting to tell. Can her friends rescue her when it all gets too much?
Information about the High-Low series from Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font.

Nayu's thoughts  
Bloomsbury have started a new imprint for those who find reading a bit tricky and understandably want books that include topics for their age, as well as for dyslexics, Hopefully I'm not breaking any rules by mentioning I've read these kind of books from Barrington Stoke for years, so was intrigued by Bloomsbury doing their own range. I got super excited when I saw Jo's name as she is one of my favourite authors. 

While I prefer longer tales these shorter reads are perfect for the target audience. Their off white page colour is pleasing to the eye, as are the short sentences and nice wide margins. The illustrations make the story even more appealing. 

It has the usual Jo Cotterill magic in, with lots of misunderstandings between the friends at boarding school. I absolutely love how Samira wears her headscarf most of the time but when she's in her pjs she doesn't, which is realistic. Her storyline in All Too Much is an important one, with incredibly realistic reactions from her friends. I think I'd have liked a little more adult input when the truth about Samira comes out, but it's so well written I didn't have the heart to give it a lower grade. Being under pressure from anyone, but especially your parents is hard to deal with for adults who know of more coping skills that aren't harmful. Poor Samira takes the only way she can see, but once the truth is out her friends help her gain better coping tactics. 

Samira becomes a support to Alice in Stage Fright, who didn't understand that she needed to tell her teachers about her homelife because of the dramatic effect it had on her key role in the school play. Again like Samira Alice didn't have enough coping methods to deal with the problem of her parents in a healthy way. She needed to find out the facts, which took a while, and speaking up sooner would have saved a whole load of chaos. I'm eager to read more from this series! 

Find out more on Jo's website

Suggested read 
Check out the books which made me fall in love with Jo's work, her Sweet Heart series including Deep Water by Jo Cotterill (Children's, 10 years +, 10E/10E)

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