I was given the opportunity to have a copy of a book to read over and see what I thought. I wasn’t really given any details about what the book was, only that it was targeted at Year 2/3. As I am going to be started a new phase of my Teaching Journey in Year 3, I thought it would be a great opportunity.
When this dropped through my letterbox I was instantly hooked:
Aside from the intriguing characters on the front of the book, what also caught my eye was the title. An interesting play on words. So I did what only you would do when something catches your eye in this day and age – I Googled it.
What I found got me even more excited. It turned out that this group were on a new journey themselves and that this book was the first in what I hope will be a fantastic series of these characters travelling the world and bringing us along for the magical ride. However, there was even more to it than that…
This is where WatAdventure stand out from the rest. There are three main characters in this story: Sirius the dour but passionate dog who just wants the best sightseeing possible and Jiblets, the impulsive but lovable monkey who enjoys the thrill of a new adventure. The third main character in this story is Lola, the girl who to whom Sirius and Jiblets belong to as toys before the magic begins. However, she is not just a storybook character…Lola is actually a real person. She won a competition in designing a flag for the Watabus (the three friends transport on this exciting outing) and as she was selected, she won the opportunity to be part of this story. This was fascinating so I looked a little bit more into it – it turned out that WatAdventure produce personalised stories for children which ignite their interest in reading for pleasure. I am looking mainly at ‘WatAdventure in Australia’ but this was a brilliant idea and I’ll already be looking out for future developments at this cutting-edge publisher.
Back to Australia…
I decided to read this to my two children – 5 and 3 years old. One is about to go into Year 2 so this was perfect. The first reaction I got when opening the cover was ‘Wowwww…’ – such is the quality of the illustration. I share an image from the WatAdventure Gallery below – there are plenty more at this site https://www.watadventure.com/gallery:
The fact is that reading the story alone was captivating enough. In reality, we could have spent hours poring over the finer details of this book. We could have spent ten or more minutes pointing out the gadgetry wizardry in the Watabus, the thriving life in the Australian bush, the fascinating schools in the Great Barrier Reef or the bustling Bondi Beach. They say don’t judge a book by its cover – in this case you should make an exception.
If the illustrations weren’t enough to grab the readers interest, then the writing of this story will. I read this to my children with delight. The flow of the narrative was exquisite. As I read, there was a rhythm to the words and the vocabulary used was outstanding. My wife actually commented on the words used and how much it stretched our children. With a storyteller, there is nothing wrong with this – in fact I say it should be encouraged. The vocabulary was thoughtfully selected enough to push the children but be accessible enough to keep the flow going. A real highlight.
I loved the characters. Sirius and Jiblets were the standouts and I presume this was because they will be the focus of the series. From the first page in which they came to life, their character style was instantly recognisable. Jiblets would be the fun-loving companion whilst Sirius would be the ever-suffering, self-appointed tour guide. It made for great reading.
And if that wasn’t enough…
As the story closed, I was fully satisfied as a parent reading this book to my children. They were silent and captivated (a good sign!) and looked forward to closely looking at the illustrations and my 5 year old wanted to read it himself. But then we turned the final page…
An explosion on non-fictional information and great puzzles for the kids to look back over the pages of the book and search. This sold it for me. The re-readability of this book as the children go back over the story’s events and see where in Australia they took place make this a brilliant addition to any child’s bookshelf – I’d say certainly up to Year 4.
But the brilliance of this story doesn’t stop there. With each purchase of the book (which is a price that is certainly not extortionate) there comes with it:
- Guided Reading questions
- 3 comprehension lessons
- 5 writing lessons
For a year group maybe looking at Aboriginal culture this would be an incredible addition to their curriculum.
I’m not being asked to sell this resource, but I know I’ll certainly be looking into this for our curriculum!