Outside in World | Browse Books
Use our Book Finder to search for books by Title (or part of the title), Author, ISBN, Age Range, Keyword, or Continent/Country. Then simply click the magnifying glass to start your search.
‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
My Friend Percy's Magical Gym Shoes
by Ulf Stark
Age Range: 9-11
buy now from amazon
Ulf gets teased at school and at home, for not being good at sport, for being the younger brother, for having flat feet. When Percy arrives in town, Ulf is overwhelmed by how confident and self-assured Percy is. Percy puts this down to his ‘magical’ gym shoes… and Ulf determines to do anything to get them! The shoes definitely seem to make a difference to Ulf’s behaviour, but when things start to go wrong, Ulf has to think about how much he really wants the shoes.
This is a fun story, although it’s probably more likely to strike a chord with boys than girls, as it follows male characters enjoying boys’ activities. Across the genders though, Ulf will gain sympathy as he tells of the trials of school life. Ulf is a really likeable character and the exploits of the boys are amusing, so readers will get swept along by the riotous, joyful plot and hang on every word.
Ulf is, above all, a character that readers should be able to recognise as a child just like them, and although he has a tougher time than some, his world is a normal one that is easily recognisable, as is the dilemma in which he finds himself. Ulf Stark writes a clever plot, as we see Ulf become happier but his behaviour becomes naughtier, and he starts to get a bad reputation, echoing the pressures we all undergo trying to ‘fit in’ in the playground. Will Ulf find a way to feel confident and be well behaved as well? Readers should be able to recognise the way things like peer pressure and self-confidence and belief affect the characters in the story, as these are things they will have come across themselves.
Ulf Stark has really found a topic that should interest and touch the targeted reading age and handles it in a fun but essentially sensitive and rather thoughtful way. He’s pitched the novel and the amiable Ulf just right, so look out for more books in the Percy series, although be warned that they do have the boys doing things like spying on sunbathing topless nurses, and finding some hidden pornography magazines. Whilst nothing explicit is mentioned, some may feel this is a little adult for the younger end of the age range.
Abby Phillips (2010)