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Boy Underwater

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Boy Underwater Reviews | Toppsta

Book Rating: 5 based on 21
21 Reviews
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A heart-breaking, heart-warming novel for everyone of 10 and older - this book will probably make you cry, and will definitely make you laugh.
Cymbeline Igloo (yes, really!) has NEVER been swimming
Not ever. Not once.
But how hard can it be? He's Googled front crawl and he's found his dad's old pair of trunks. He's totally ready.
What he's not ready for is the accident at the pool - or how it leads his mum to a sudden breakdown.
Now, with the help of friends old and new, Cymbeline must solve the mystery of why his mum never took him near water - and it will turn his whole life upside down...
`A wonderful story, moving and funny' - Ross Welford

Boy Underwater Reviews | Toppsta

9780008267018

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First Line

Here's something you won't believe. I, Cymbeline Igloo have never been swimming.

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  • "A wonderful story, moving and funny." (Ross Welford)

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13th July '18
I read it to Callum2010 aged 7 aged 7
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
The exploration of mental health and the accidents that can cause this, along with keeping secrets are shown to be able to pull a family apart make Boy Underwater an important reading for these issues as it approached them honestly and doesn’t trivialise them. These issues are explored and the sadness portrayed, whilst also including lots of humour. This makes the perfect balance! 
My son is nearly 8 and read this, I wouldn’t recommend any children younger than this read it, particularly not alone. It was great the way it opened up conversations about mental health for my son though. Ideal for Key Stage 2 children, or older. 
8th September '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
I loved this book, it's both funny and sad in equal parts,it's a real rollercoaster ride of emotions but I couldn't put it down! I read it blind without reading any reviews or blurb, so I had no preconceptions about the storyline and I think that really added to the whole experience, I would recommend to good readers in year 5 and upwards. 
21st July '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
‘A book that shows how the littlest of people can cope with the biggest of issues… Named after Shakespeare’s own Cymbeline, this is both a comedy and a tragedy that’ll leave readers feeling like you’re thrown in at the deep end and completely blown out of the water at the same time.’

Named after Shakespeare’s own Cymbeline, this is both a comedy and a tragedy that’ll leave readers feeling thrown in at the deep end and completely blown out of the water at the same time. The story starts with a boy (Cymbeline, ‘yes really!’) who’s never swam before challenging one of the class’ strongest swimmers to a race on a school visit to the local swimming baths. This can only go one of one ways: not swimmingly. In fact so bad that after Cym has an accident at the pool, his mum ends up in hospital.

Man... no... Boy overboard!

Feeling like he’s out of his depth with absolutely none of the adults telling him what’s happening, he is determined to find out for himself why his mum’s disappeared and like a fish out of water, he’s been forced to live with his ultra-rich relatives who, unbeknownst to him initially, have many recurring problems of their own.

But does he sink or does he swim?

Told through the very eyes of our protagonist, the character of Cymbeline ebbs and flows from the silly, innocent, almost naïve nine-year-old he is to then providing a social commentary on events, observations and life that even the most perceptive adult may not recognise or be able to articulate so well.

Pushing is an action that sets the story off to a shaky start for Cym however throughout it, we slowly start to see characters pulling people and families apart only for them to later on push people and families back together and it is this that makes this story a must-read. One for older Upper Key Stage 2 readers, of which I recommend being mostly mature Year 5 and Year 6 readers or older: mixing mental health, depression, family dynamics, bullying and strong emotions, this is a story that will make a huge splash when staying in the minds of its readers due to the often hearty emotional content it contains. This is also complemented by the illustrations of Benji Davies (best known for Grandad’s Island, The Storm Whale and The Grotlyn) that add further weight to this already deeply moving story.

I can guarantee that once you’ve dipped your toe in to read a chapter, you’ll be jumping in to read one more and one more after that as you’ll be completely absorbed by the character of Cymbeline and his pursuit in finding the truth about why he’s never encountered water in a way that could, and maybe would, have prevented his previously-mentioned ‘accident’. A truth that you need to watch out for as it’s quite the tumble-turn that will change him and his family forever…

Emotionally gripping and truly deserving of being awarded Waterstones’ Children’s Book of the Month for June, this is a book that shows how the littlest of people can and do cope with the biggest of issues.
2nd September '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
I was lucky enough to win a signed copy from Toppsta, and having seen a lot of hype around the book I was intrigued as to what it was all about.  The story follows the life of a year 4 boy called Cymbeline and has strong issues covered such as death of a young sibling, bullying, growing up and mental health. Because of this I'd agree with the other reviews on here, definitely a book for a mature year 5 children or for a year 6 child and above.  
The author has cleverly woven the subject of mental health into the story by seeing it from a child's perspective - how Cymbeline deals watches his mother has a breakdown about the death of his younger brother and the secrets surrounding why Cymbeline's father is no longer around.  This is quiet emotional and subtly done, and may be an area a parent / teacher will want to explore with the reader so they understand the plot. 
Overall a good book that discusses the issue of mental health in a way children may be able to relate too.
22nd July '18
FelixLowe read it themselves aged 11 aged 11
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
This book is really good. 
The main character, Cymbeline Igloo, has never been swimming, EVER. After he has an accident at the pool, while pretending that he could swim, his mum breaks down and Cym has to work out why...
It's a mystery story, and a story about friendship and family and how these things can be a bit tricky. The blurb said it would make me cry and make me laugh, and it did! 
I would recommend this book for year 5 and above. It's heart-warming, funny and makes you think. 
22nd July '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
This book was absolutely breath-taking. 
Cymbeline has lived his life in mystery and has never been swimming, but after a tragic incident at the swimming pool, all of his pasts secrets become to come to light. I found myself laughing at all of the raw and hilarious jokes, and the funny emotions Cymbeline feels. As a young boy, he is innocent and pure, making this book, which is full of heart-breaking content, so sad and depressing. Cymbeline's Mum goes mad and sends herself to the hospital, making Cymbeline's world turn upside down. Forced to live with his rich Aunt and his two cousins Cymbeline tries to figure out what happened to his Mum, with heart-shattering results. I almost could not believe it when the book took such a sharp, twisted turn into something completely different and sad. Cymbeline finally learns why he has never been swimming, and why he has never met his Dad. I prepared for the poor boy's downfall. 

Overall a brilliant book which I severely recommend to all fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 
28th August '18
birchbear read it themselves aged 9 aged 9
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
I liked the book because it was different to other books that I've read. This is because it was an adventure book but it only stayed around the boy's house rather than going to places far away.
24th September '18
I read it to Josh aged 10 aged 10 & to Sam aged 8 aged 8
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
Wow! We loved this book! We didn’t have any idea what this book would be about but we were not disappointed.

From the first page the story is fast paced and thought provoking. The boys were desperate for ‘another chapter’ and we raced through this book in less than a week.

There are many modern references and many parts that made us laugh out loud although at times there were also tears.

We would highly recommend this book.
16th July '18
Cbow read it themselves aged 12 aged 12
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
I really enjoyed this book and it was so exciting and I couldn't put it down!! I read it in 2 hours. It was exceptional and you really felt for the characters. Its about a young boy who has to deal with parent problems and embarrassing moments at school. It gave me a lot of confidence. There was some exaggerated text and words which made it fun to read as well as the detailed illustrations.
3rd September '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
In this book Cymerline Igloo tells his story of his first school swimming lesson, first ever experience of swimming actually. His trip to the swimming pool ends in a disaster, after a little white lie. His bad experience at the swimming pool, tumbles his mum into a sudden breakdown as Cymberline tries to solve the mystery of what has caused his mum's breakdown and why he has never been swimming. His life and that of his relatives comes crashing down around him, throughout the story but with the help of his new and unexpected friends, Cymberline manages to find his mum again and solve the mystery around his mum's breakdown and her paintings. 
4th November '18
I read it to 6W aged 10 to 11
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
Cymbeline has never been swimming! The reason for this is a complete mystery to him, as he doesn’t believe his mother’s ridiculous reasons. 
An accident during his first school swimming lesson leaves Cym humiliated and his mother’s mental health to rapidly deteriorate. 
Cymbeline, now forced to live with his aunty, embarks on a journey of discovers - about himself, his mother and the reason why he was never allowed near water. 
The character is relatable and lovable. He is fiesty, determined and resilient. Helped my unlikely companions and driven by the love of his mother, he searches for answers in the strangest of places.
19th June '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
Grab your tissues (to muffle laughter and mop up tears) and get ready for one of the stand out reads this year…
It’s that time in Year 4 when Cymbeline’s class are due to start swimming lessons, which is great, or it would be if he’d ever been swimming before. But, his mum has never taken him, not to a swimming pool, not in the sea, not anywhere, ever. He’s googled front crawl, had a practice in the bath, and with his dad’s swimming shorts and goggles, he’s good to go. What could possibly go wrong?
An accident at the pool sparks a breakdown for his mum, and Cymbeline finds himself cast adrift from his normal life, searching for the truth about why his mum never took him near water. A truth that will change everything…
A wonderfully told, touching tale, I devoured Boy Underwater in one emotionally fraught sitting.
From laughter to tears and back again, Cymbeline’s cheeky, chatty voice shines through the bleakness of his story. His naivety at some of the adult behaviour and innocence at what happens around him remind us he’s just about to turn 9, in stark contrast to class mate Veronique, the overly-timetabled child-genius, who appears to be far older than her years. I loved watching their friendship grow throughout the story. While I wanted to reach into the story and hold Cymbeline close, there were times when I wanted to roar at the selfishness of some of the adults around him.
Benji Davies’ illustrations capture both the darkness and loneliness Cymbeline feels at times, as well as his fun, inquisitive nature, and add an extra layer of beauty to the stunning story.
Tackling mental health, family secrets and break-ups, this is tough subject matter for the young protagonist and you, the reader, as his confidant, so although Cymbeline is in Year 4, I would recommend it’s saved for Year 6 and above mature readers.
Great for fans of The Light Jar, Charlie & Me, The 1000 Year Old Boy, and The Mystery Of The Colour Thief.
6th September '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
An amazing story, all about the way a young child copes with a mother with a mental illness.
Set in the UK, this story is a familiar setting for most children who would read it, and yet, it can feel a million miles away from reality.
With a stunning twist in the final quarter, this is an excellent read for some older readers who can deal with some challenging themes.
2nd December '18
Oakclass read it themselves aged 9 to 11
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
What a great book! It covers a range of emotions and some interesting social issues.

You won’t be able to put the book down when you start. I have just read it to my year 5 and 6 class who couldn’t wait for some reading time at the end of the day. 
7th September '18
Ollie05 read it themselves aged 13 aged 13
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
A moving story different to what I would usually read but I really enjoyed it. It did sometimes make me feel sad and I'm pleased I read the book with my mum, so we could talk about the issues raised. I would recommend this book to my friends.
12th July '18
I read it to Darth aged 9 aged 9
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
5 stars
An incredible and moving story. Cymbeline has never been swimming, in fact his mother is evasive about taking him swimming. When he gets to go with school, he's pushed in and his mother has a breakdown. It's such a very good read and my son and i were able to talk about mental health. The book has a lot of humour in it so it's not overly sad. It was difficult to put down. A very good read.
21st July '18
DeltaDino read it themselves aged 11 aged 11
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
4 stars
I liked that this book had an interesting story with lots of twists in it. I wouldn't describe this book as a mystery book but neither would I describe it an adventure book, It's a bit of a mix. There are illustrations which add a lot to the story line if you pay enough attention. This book is very intriguing and keeps you interested. 
21st October '18
I read it myself (an adult)
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
4 stars
I loved reading this book so much I completed it in a day. I do with good books. The story is captivating.  It tells the story of symbaline igloo, a young boy who has never been swimming ever and then goes for a swimming lesson with school without his mum being aware and having told anyone that will listen that he's EPIC at swimming. He nearly drowns and is rescued from the pool and upon being notified Symbalines mother cracks from that of a single mother that's in control of everything to one that cannot take anything else.
Symbaline has to get to the bottom of why hes never been encouraged to learn to swim by his mum and save her from the sorrow she now suffers with. A brilliant read for year 6 and above (it uses the anatomical names for the reproductive parts of males and females, and insinuates other grown up references).
I would highly recommend.
12th September '18
Ivytheowl read it themselves aged 13 aged 13
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
4 stars
This book was a bit different to the ones I normally read but I enjoyed it anyway. It is written very funny even if the topic is serious. The main character, Cymbeline, has never been swimming and the question why is the central theme of the book. He realises it has something to do with his mother but needs help from friends and family to solve the mystery, especially when she disappears. I liked Cymbeline, even if I thought the name was a bit silly, as he is very caring and funny. You feel sorry for him when he has to go and stay with relatives when his mother can't look after him. I wasn't convinced by Cymbeline's friend Veronique though. She seemed a bit too extreme, especially when she wants to find out how the financial market works. And his Auntie Mill seemed a bit too mean at times. But apart from that I would recommend this book as it makes you think more about what problems other people might have at home.
19th October '18
I read it myself aged 9 aged 9
Boy Underwater 9780008267018
3 stars
i liked this book because it was about someone who cant swim and that is when the good part is even tho i cried in it it was still really good
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About Adam Baron

Adam Baron is the author of five successful novels and has, in his time, been an actor, comedian, journalist and press officer at Channel 4 television (as well as things he's too embarrassed to mention). He now runs the widely respected MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University London. Adam lives in Greenwich, South London, with his wife and three y...

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