Title: Simon Cup’s Box
Author: A.B. Syed
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Received for Review from the author
Summary (from Audible)
Poor Simon is always in trouble. If only he could be less clumsy, or more popular, his life would be perfect! But how is a woodworking project going to help him achieve this seemingly impossible goal?
It was never even meant to be a box. It was supposed to be a kitchen roll holder. But when Simon Cup goes to the last woodwork lesson of the term, what he makes amazes not only the woodwork teacher, but the whole school.
This is a cute little tale of a clumsy school boy, with a magical twist in the shape of that charming looking fellow on the front cover – a magical creature that grants wishes. But only very specific ones. And only one a day.
Kids will likely love the misadventures of Simon and his classmates, recognising themselves and their friends in the characters. Poor Simon always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and though the situations he ends up in are completely dramatic, there will certainly be moments of ‘oops, I’ve been there’ for younger readers.
The inclusion of teacher characters as major players in the plot was one I was a little dubious about at first, but as an adult, I appreciated some of the more adult humour they enabled the writer to include. And I don’t mean that in a ‘dirty humour’ way, just the sorts of dry jokes that might go over the little ones’ heads, but will give adults reading along a bit of a giggle. Particularly when it comes to Mr Joyce and his sarcastic Welsh accent.
The book is delightfully read – a playful performance by Mark Topping. He gets the accents right and portrays the emotions of both the kids and the adults well.
I did find the speed with which the chapters ended a little jarring. It was almost as if there had been some arbitrary decision about word length, and every chapter stuck to it, as some chapters broke in the middle of scenes. I doubt it’s something that would bother a younger reader though, and having lots of chapter breaks does provide plenty of ‘stopping points’ for bed time stories.
Overall, it was a fun tale of surviving school, growing up, finding a place in the world, all with a sprinkle of magic. Without being heavy on the moralising, it explores themes like sacrifice and identity in kid friendly ways, and with plenty of good humour, it’s likely to be a book the little ones will revisit again and again.