Review of Grim Falls Academy by Louise ForShaw
I am delighted to be part of the Grim Falls Academy Blog Tour. Introducing to you a fantastic new series for children aged 7 to 11 years. A great book for those that prefer a shorter read (each book is about 120 pages). It has the perfect mix of inventive characters, adventures and mishaps, and great character development to keep the interest of all years in KS2. The story is set in a boarding school for monsters, and focuses on three main characters. Seb who is a werewolf, his best friend Victor, who is a vampire bat, and a new student called Tabitha who is probably a human and just discovering her talents. As the title of the first books ‘Don’t Eat the Soup’ suggests, the cooks’ soup causes chaos. I love that the teachers are affected by the soup, leaving the students to sort out the chaos. Unfortunately, this coincides with a school inspection, so Seb, Victor and Tabitha have a race against time to put things right and save the school. But, luckily for the trio they are supported by two ‘enchanted suits of Armour’ called Clunk and Clang, who guard the school. The school inspector has trouble solving Clunk’s riddle so is delayed at the front door to the school.
I love that the publisher Maverick Books has decided to publish the 3 books in the Grim Falls Academy series at the same time (I really hope there will be more in the series). So that developing readers can keep their interest by jumping straight into the next book. There are a number of things that set this new series apart. Firstly, the way the the story is built up, there is good story telling and plotting and Louise ForShaw perfectly balances introducing the reader to information they need to understand the story with an exciting action packed plot. This is further enhanced by the excellent and well placed illustrations that make this a very readable series. Louise ForShaw is both author and illustrator. She has illustrated many children’s books, this is the first book she has also written. I think her background in illustration has really enabled her to make good use of the illustrations to support the story, which is not always as well done in short reads. The second thing that distinguishes this short read for KS2 is the strength of the characters and the strong friendship between Seb and Victor.
Exploring Mishaps and character development
As part of my stop on the Blog Tour I wanted introduce you to two aspects that I think Grim Falls Academy does especially well.
There are a number of accidents and incidents that happen. So let me introduce you to a few of them.
The incident with the mop
As Seb is rushing to class at the the start of the story he has a run in with a mop, With a combination of text and illustrations this is brilliantly executed. So you have a laugh and feel sorry for one of the main characters.
“Seb was in too much of a hurry to see the sign on the floor. Or the bucket full of soapy water. Or even Brian the zombie caretaker, mopping. That’s why he suddenly found himself with one foot in a bucket, slipping and sliding across the damp floor.
“LOOK OUT!” he wailed, flapping, his arms wildly. But it was too late.”
P11 Grim Falls Academy, Don’t Eat the Soup! (Book 1)
The start of the chaos in the lunch hall
Absolutely love how the school cafeteria went from calm lunch hall, to chaos in minutes!
“The cafeteria exploded into chaos.
Miss Hallow quickly sprouted two more tentacles that wrestled and grappled with each other, “WHAT’S HAPPENING?! WHAT AM I?IN FACT, WHO AM I?” she wailed.
Dr Fink the Mad Science teacher, was lying on the floor sobbing with his hand covering his ears….”
P40 Grim Falls Academy, Don’t Eat the Soup! (Book 1)
Character Development: characters that care and want to do their best
One of the things I love about this series is the care Louise Forshaw takes in developing her characters and the insights she gives into how they are feeling. It is also great that book 1 has profiles of each of the main characters in the book, which would be great for recapping the story, and helping the reader understand the characters.
Seb being a wererwolf is the perfect opportunity to explore in a broad sense what happens when you get angry. So you get introduced to Seb being frustrated by getting angry in certain situations and trying to control it.
Another, is when Clang feels he’s a failure because he let the school down with something. I love how the illustrations that go with this tell the reader more and you can see how Seb and Victor are comforting him.
There is so much to enjoy in this imaginative new series, full of mishaps and adventures and characters young readers will really warm too. Highly recommend for 7 to 11 years. Do check out the rest of the posts in the blog tour.
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Check out the other post in the blog tour.