Review also includes:
Wasim’s Challenge, 128pp, 978-1847800565
Wasim has already been introduced to young readers in Wasim the Wanderer, where he is involved in football. In these two new titles, he faces further challenges. In the first, Wasim wants to win the special star awarded to those who manage to swim a length without holding on. But Wasim falls foul of Miss Carol, the Life Guard and Swimming Instructor when he is caught talking (no matter that he was trying to be kind and help new boy, Wayne – a situation that will strike a chord with many young readers) and told he cannot swim. How will he get the coveted star? It has all gone wrong – but a near tragedy, and Wasim’s quick reactions bring the chance to succeed.
In Wasim’s Challenge, Year 5 have left the safe confines of their inner city school and are in Wales – Snowdonia – for their Challenge by Choice. Wasim is excited; he is going to succeed at the challenges. But, the expedition has coincided with Ramadan. Of course, Wasim does not have to fast – his father and Imam have agreed. For Wasim, though, it is another case where he has been told he is not ready. He is determined to prove them all wrong and has imposed the fast on himself without telling anyone. It shouldn’t be too difficult, should it? But fasting is far more difficult than he expected – and then there is the ban on food in the dormitory. It looks as though Wasim has ruined the whole thing for everyone. However, an extreme situation once again calls for resourcefulness and quick wits – in this case, Wasim’s. The adventure is brought to a very satisfactory conclusion.
Ashley has a lively style with short sharp sentences and a contemporary vocabulary. A headmaster as well as a writer, he has a keen ear for the language of primary school children, and insight into their behaviour and motivation. It is particularly refreshing to have titles in which the multicultural nature of city schools is represented – and by the main protagonist. It is also refreshing to have a situation involving Ramadan and its demands as a central theme. There must be many young readers for whom this is a very real scenario. Both of these titles are well worth recommending especially to boys, KS2 and even a little older. Full of everyday action and humour, they move along smartly, never condescending or talking down. Let us hope there will be more Wasim titles.