Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

– Short Review –

I found Boy Underwater to be a magnificent book that has a host of themes that are running through it, a number of which I am sure many young children may face at some point in their little lives. There is so much jammed packed into this adorable read that it reminded me of a swan – graceful on the surface but under the water (inside the book) it’s legs are thrashing and the water is churning. Boy Underwater is an exhilarating fast paced read and I would highly recommend this book for schools and reluctant readers, Baron has a voice that is clear, engaging and truthful – it’s almost as if a child had written it. Bravo a fabulous book to enjoy!

Other books you may enjoy Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans, Tuesdays Are Just As Bad by Cethan Leahy, Grief Is The Thing With Feathers Max Porter , A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and if you have little children and want to explore some of the themes in this book we’d also recommend The Magical Wood by Mark Lemon.

– Long Review –

I learnt very early on as a child never to judge a book by its cover, so why did I think that this book was going to be like a tale of The Lost City of Atlantis, thinking that it would be about a boy who could explore under the water, breathing like a fish. I have no idea, but although I had all these things floating around in my head, none of them prepared me for the journey that was about to unfold. The cover does hide some small clues about the story…but the shear brilliance of this book comes when we delve into the story which is masterfully told by Adam Baron.

We join Cymbeline Igloo (what a name!) who becomes our narrator throughout Boy Underwater and I was completely taken with him within the first few pages. Adam Baron writes in such an engaging way and his prose is delicious, pulling the reader straight into the life of this child and into a story you become fully invested in. A journey and a discovery that keep you flicking through the pages at an alarming rate (I read this book in a day – it was that epic).

With Cymbeline as our guide we soon get to meet the rag-tag bunch of children that he calls his friends, we meet members of his family and a few other interesting characters along the way. The key to this book is its engagement with the reader, I think many young people reading it will be able to picture children in their schools (possibly even their friends) in some of the characters Baron brings deftly to life.

I don’t want to go into the story too much as I think it’s quite a spoiler filled book if I talk about it in much depth but I wanted to touch on some of the themes that are running throughout the book and what makes it such a fabulous book. There are themes of love, loss, bereavement, adventure, family issues (whether this is a single parent, no parents or having multiple parents through divorce and re-marriage), bullying, friendship and at the very heart of the book – a boys journey to find what he loves most and to grip it with both hands. Life is not all neat and tidy and this book helps to show that whatever you are, whatever your home circumstances, you are all still precious – Baron deals with this core theme brilliantly and it is what endears the book to its reader.

With the various elements mentioned above this book would be a fabulous resource in school and would be great as a teaching aid to help circumnavigate these rather large issues in life in an engaging way.

The book is also illustrated beautifully by Benji Davies, these illustrations do not distract the reader from the book but more work in harmony with the words Baron has put to page.

Boy Underwater is a terrific read and one that we would highly recommend here at STORGY Kids….but a word of advice, when swimming make sure you do up your trunks!

Boy Underwater is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books and is available here.

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Adam Baron

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Adam Baron is the author of five successful novels and has, in his time, been an actor, comedian, journalist and press officer at Channel 4 television (as well as things he’s too embarrassed to mention). He now runs the widely respected MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University London. Adam lives in Greenwich, South London, with his wife and three young children. He wrote Boy Underwater (his first novel aimed at younger readers) because they told him to. While still in the flush of youth he knows what his final words are going to be: ‘clear the table’.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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