School of Fish: Fintastic Four, by Louis Shea
My kids love reading about underwater adventures - there is something mysterious and engaging about this whole other world that exists, often unseen, beneath the sea. When I came across this book in the Scholastic Bookclub catalogue I knew we had to have it - and it did not disappoint.
We were immediately drawn into the cool watery world of Finn the shark and his friends, who are intent on solving the mystery of why the new kid - Philippa - keeps mysteriously disappearing from class - and then suddenly reappearing again. Where is she going and why? Finn is convinced something fishy is going on - maybe Philippa is a robot? It would explain why she is seemingly such a know-it-all. Or perhaps a human in disguise?
Not only this, but Philippa is super fast, which means she has caught the attention of Blake the bully. Blake is determined to win the Great Ocean Race, and won't let anyone get in his way...
We loved this fun fast-paced story of friendship, teamwork, mystery and adventure. Finn and his buddies are a fun-loving and curious bunch, who ultimately come to understand about being kind and inclusive, accepting others for who they are, and working as a team to solve problems. The storyline may empower young readers to know they don't have to tolerate being bullied. I also love the hilarious conspiracy theories of Finn and his friends, which injected some fun and light-heartedness into this story.
There is just the right amount of action to keep emerging readers engaged. Finn's close call with a fisherman's net and Blake the bully's treacherous plans to win the Great Ocean Race - which itself is full of dangerous obstacles - make for a fast-paced plot which at times had us holding our breath, hoping for the safety of our protagonists.
The illustrations are full of vibrant colour and movement, the cool blue and green colour palette a perfect backdrop for this underwater-themed story. Mr 6 and I loved exploring the occasional two-page spreads, which are filled with exquisite eye-catching colour. Mr 6 particularly welcomed the inclusion of a map of the Great Ocean race course, along with the character profiles which broke up the narrative and really captured his attention.
Mr 6 was able to manage reading the majority of the text himself, which gave him a real sense of achievement. There definitely seems to be a gap in the market for graphic novels for emerging readers that work to enhance literacy skills, and that couple humour and fun with a more solid storyline - and this book ticks all the right boxes.
We are definitely 'hooked' and eagerly awaiting book 2 in the series!
Published by Scholastic Australia