15th May '19
This book was recommended to us by a teacher at school who thought it was great for encouraging children to be more resilient and brave. After reading the first few pages I could clearly see what she was thinking, it definitely promotes self-esteem and confidence boosting for young children who are often anxious or riddled with doubt. I particularly like how it is constantly asking questions, something which I know some of my children do regularly, either to themselves or to other people, for clarification, comfort and reassurance. It was nice to see this embedded within the book and to have it addressed, especially from a PSHE perspective where we tackle areas of concern or worries that the children may have. I also like how it constantly talks about feelings and the main character 'Olly' is forever expressing himself. With society now trying to encourage people of all ages and walks of life to express their inner feelings to improve and promote a healthier state of mind (mental health) it was great to read a book that encourages this also.
Olly, a young easily-bored boy, has begrudgingly attended a camp which tests him to the limit. He's gone with his friend Jack but is the polar opposite to the way he's feeling about it. Jack is enthused, excited and ready for whatever comes his way. Olly on the other hand is horrified at the thought of spending time at camp and begins moaning almost as soon as he sees the kit he has to 'lug' about with him. Straight away we can see that they are two very different boys. Jack is more outgoing and approachable, Olly, puts you in mind of Horrid Henry, stroppy, awkward and difficult to win over, unless its on his terms. At the beginning of the story it is difficult to see that Olly will actually learn anything from camp as he begins to duck out of activities and refuses to work as a team because the task is altogether too hard. This displeases his teammates, Jack and Omar, a boy they've joined forces with, especially as the tasks are timed, and incredibly taxing. Olly doesn't care though and quickly excuses himself to run back to the tent they'd eventually managed to put up, much to his annoyance yet again. After a short while Olly realises that even though he's not doing all of the boring tasks the camp leaders have set, he's not just bored and alone, in the 'comfort' of the tent, without his teammates. He decides to go and find them and try to improve his attitude towards whatever task is set next. Although on approach, he overhears Omar complaining to Jack about him and is so hurt that he doesn't bother going to re-join them in their most recent task. He instead slopes back off to the tent feeling awful and wishing he wasn't at camp but having no way of leaving. All of a sudden Olly finds himself in an empty place, a very cold, empty place, with a strange man named Bear. The book follows Olly along an adventure out in the wilderness with Bear Grylls as his leader and mentor, encouraging him and guiding him through this difficult time. Bear provides non-stop support and lessons which Olly slowly begins to learn from. Initially, Olly doesn't listen as well as he should but it soon lands him in a tricky situation where he could have been badly hurt and that soon makes him realise that Bear's words are teaching him how to make it out of this adventure ALIVE! After what feels like weeks in freezing terrain, Olly wakes to find he is back at Camp with his friends, Jack and Omar. His attitude towards this expedition has now changed and the boys can't quite believe the difference in him. He proves to himself and the others that he isn't just 'all talk' but can actually complete an activity to the best of his ability, showing how much he learnt and grew on the adventure he had with Bear, which neither of the other boys know anything about. All this from a magical compass? Olly is amazed and knows that he no longer needs to reassurance and guidance of Bear but someone else might. So he sets off to hand over the compass to someone who could benefit from a few outdoor lessons, particularly with creepy-crawlies. A great lesson is to be learnt from this book, one of self-belief and positivity. That even in the darkest of times it's possible to achieve something.
The children enjoyed this book as we've never read anything like it before and they like to find out about new themes. Their thoughts are as follows:
AJ aged 7: I would give it 5 stars because I liked the whole book.
AM aged 7: I'd give it 5 stars because I like that they do outdoor things in nature.
IS aged 6: I liked when Bear helped Olly when he was stuck and couldn't get out. I would give it 4 stars because in the beginning Olly was not being kind.
SV aged 7: I'll give it 5 stars because it teaches you how to survive in the wild.
TM aged 7: I'd give it 5 stars because it's very interesting and it teaches you that you change.
SuA aged 6: I would give this book 5 stars because it was really interesting and I liked all the different punctuation like question marks, this is my writing target so that gave me lots of ideas.
SaA aged 7: I liked it when Olly started to be good and listen to Bear because if you don't listen you might hurt yourself or you might get lost and don't know where your leader is. I like how Omar started to like Olly.
RW aged 6: At the start of the story I didn't think Olly would change his behaviour but when we got to the end I noticed that he would start to change. I would give 4 stars because I didn't like parts of it and would change some parts if I could. I would change the part where they are doing the activities and I would make them harder because Olly has lots of experience and I don't think it was challenging enough for someone like him.
BA aged 6: I like the part when Bear told Olly to keep on trying because it tells me that even if you are saying you can't do it, you can still try again.
BC aged 6: I would give it 4 stars because I didn't like the bit when Olly didn't listen because I thought he was being ungrateful to Bear for when he helped him.
TE aged 7: I would give it 4 stars because I liked it when Olly was confident saying he could do it but I didn't like when he was stuck because he would have been cold and too wet. I wouldn't like that so I didn't like reading it.