My Review of "Flying Fergus" by Chris Hoy (5-8yo)

Flying Fergus 1: The Best Birthday Bike

Meet Fergus Hamilton, a boy with a big imagination! Living with his mum, granddad and Chimp the dog, he dreams of a Sullivan Swift bike and becoming the most brilliant boy cyclist in the world. So when he gets a second hand rusty bike for his 9th birthday he can't help feeling a bit disappointed. How would he ever become the next Steve "Spokes" Sullivan if he didn't have a 24 gear, hydraulic brakes, state of the art suspension bike to practise on? But then he takes it for a ride and discovers something amazing.......

This is a really fun read for ages 5-8 years olds (and their parents!). To date, there are currently two books in the series and a third on the way. They are 104 pages long with a clear font and short chapters. Every page has some cartoon style illustrations- akin to that of Pixar Animation- making it a wining combination for both reluctant and confident readers alike. Clare Elsom has cleverly made the comic style pictures appropriate for younger readers but still trendy and entertaining enough to appeal to 8 year olds.

Fergus is an ordinary boy who "likes football (when his team won) liked fish fingers and chocolate cake (but not on the same plate) and didn't like broccoli (but he ate it)". He uses his excellent imagination to hide in and build a better life. He wants to join "Wallace Winner's" cycling team and beat bully Wesley Wallace.

The writing is fast, punchy, humorous and energetic. Fergus is a really engaging and likeable character. On the morning of his birthday, I loved the way he searched for the Sullivan Swift bike he was so sure of getting even though he couldn't find the "swift shaped package anywhere even after looking in the fridge!"

His friend Daisy is bright, optimistic and always full of encouragement. In answer to Fergus's reluctant "Well......" she wittily replies: "Wells are for falling down.....haven't you always said you want to build your own bike?" And so the adventure begins!

Without sounding patronising or condescending, the book is full of positive messages like "there's no such thing as magic, just hard graft," and to Fergus's assertion that he's a born loser the retort "No one's born a winner or loser....might have talent but that's just the beginning." Great messages from a professional athlete and gold medal winner. "You've got your imagination," says Granddad, "Dream big."

So Fergus takes his rusty second hand bike and transforms it. Then, on his first outing with it he discovers something magical. Suddenly transported to "Nevermore" where Chimp can talk and cycling is banned, Fergus is given the chance to prove to himself that he has what it takes to be a champion. His guide to Nevermore, Princess Lily (who is nothing but princessy - thankfully!) shows him the challenge. He has to do one lap of the Enchanted Forest. He has to beat the stealth shield, the smoke generator, the well of everlasting torment, the gruesome glade and the swamp of certain death..... Yes, this is a book of big imaginations!

Although reluctant to sound like my Great Auntie Beryl, the word that sums this book up is delightful. It is warm, funny, action packed and authentic. It is about dreaming big, holding on to hope and believing in yourself. I look forward to reading the next book with my two children (5 and 7 years old), once I have retrieved it from my 9 year old's bedroom! This is a series which is sure to become very popular with its entertaining balance of laughter, magical adventure and cycling!

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