Kim and Leon live on a farm in Suffolk, England. Kim is a schoolboy and Leon is his pet donkey. A rainy day encounter leads them on an adventure far away in Africa. Along the way there are dangers, and fears about who can be trusted. There is also the threatening presence of a slave ship, looming in the bay. Barnaby Allen was a teacher of English and history. In this historical fantasy, he beautifully combines suspense with an immersion in history. This book comes with tasks of writing, acting and drawing. This is a simplified version of the original book. It suits especially ESL pupils.
I received a copy of this book from Random Things Tours in return for an honest review.
I like the writing style of this children’s adventure story. Resembling poetic verse, it is easy to read and presents the story in a reader-friendly format.
The early part of the story, set in rural Suffolk has a traditional feel. It reads as if it was set in a pre-internet age, or even earlier. That would also explain some of the expressions, which are not twenty-first-century politically correct.
The main historical part of the story set in Africa reflects on the slave trade. This is an unusual choice for a children’s book, and parents and teachers should be prepared for children’s questions. The adventure element is charming and the detailed information about life in Africa at that time is interesting to adults too.
Kim goes on a character journey in this story, as much as a fantasy, geographical one. Learning about a different culture, and historic events change his perspective. Leon is a magical donkey, who provides Kim with his opportunity for adventure. His outward gruffness hides a wealth of intelligence and kindness and makes him a wonderful role model for Kim and the book’s readers.
The interactive quality of the book is excellent. The tasks make the children think about what they have heard or read and reinforce elements of the story.
A worthwhile reading book for the children and adults, which is rich in cultural and historical details, but delivered in an exciting, magical way.
Barnaby Allen was born in Suva Fiji, as his father was working there for the British Crown. He was introduced to literature by his mother, who liked to recite poetry and had a gift of telling engaging stories. As an adult, Barnaby Allen worked in education in several countries mostly teaching English. He loved to travel, classical music, discussions, current affairs, Pacific affairs, family, good food and board games. Barnaby’s children also had the benefit of Barnaby telling stories to them and making the characters come alive with acting out different roles.