When James Small and Neville Heavy get a new teacher, Mr Grindell, for their primary school class, they little realise just what a difference he might make. They notice he has particularly hairy hands, but that is just the start of their adventures.
Although it’s difficult to judge accurately as a woman in her fifties as opposed to a child of seven to ten, I can’t see how any child would fail to love this wonderful story. Certainly, those I’ve taught in the past would be utterly entranced by it. I also liked the literacy ideas at the back of the novel that teachers or parents could use to help children develop their own writing skills.
The writing flows beautifully and Miles Salter’s storytelling is flawless, including all the elements children like such as danger, friendship and humour. Miles salter has been extremely clever as the cultural references and funny elements won’t date for several years so that there is a longevity to this read. Witches, werewolves, missing dogs, grave yards and Halloween with a full moon all contribute to a highly entertaining narrative. The story ends with ‘To be continued…’so although there is sufficient resolution at the end, there is also room for a child’s imagination before they read the next installment of James Small and Neville Heavy’s adventures.
Vivid, well crafted descriptions help even the most reluctant reader engage with and understand both character and plot. Indeed, the plot is so fast paced that it is thoroughly entertaining. I think ‘Howl’ would make a fantastic children’s television programme and had it been written by someone more famous I’m certain it would have been commissioned by now. It really is brilliant.