Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World by Eoin Colfer, illustrated byTony Ross

Eoin Colfer's book The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World is told in the first person from the point of view of Will, a young boy of 9 who has 4 brothers. Unfortunately for Will, having 4 brothers and 3 of them younger than him means that he often doesn't get the attention he feels he needs and deserves from his Mum and Dad. However, he finds the perfect audience to listen to his tales of woe in the form of Grandad. Children in lower Key Stage 2 will love the ensuing competition between Will and Grandad to see who can tell the story with the biggest problem. They will be able to relate to many of Will's 'problems' and will be amused and engaged by Grandad's tales.

The story contains a second story which is cleverly woven into the main narrative. This story is in stark contrast to the main story which is told through gentle humour. Instead, the second story is full of suspense, tension and action as Will's older brother carries out a plan to get rid of 2-year-old Will. This shorter story within the story is ideal for exploring story structure, identifying the problem, build-up and resolution. Through guided reading children could discuss how Colfer builds up the tension. The sentences are short and simple, thereby quickly drawing the reader into the action. This also makes the text accessible for those who have just gained independence in reading. The text is accompanied by black and white illustrations by Tony Ross, which makes it a suitable 'transition' text from picture book to novel.

Colfer's storytelling is so good that at the end of the book he is able to explain to his readers the meaning of 'moral of the story' in such a way that feels natural and integral to the story itself. This would allow teachers to explore 'morals in stories' with their classes and identify other tales which have morals and what those morals are. The title 'the Legend of...' also provides opportunity to investigate and explore other types of tale/story. So, within this one book we have 3 story genres 1) the contemporary familiar setting story 2) the fable and 3) the legend. Pupils could investigate the features of all three and compare and contrast them and collect examples of each.

There is also ample opportunity for language study from the invention of new words to the use of adjectives to create vivid and funny descriptions, to simile to aid visual understanding.

The fact that the story is told in the first person means that the tale will appeal to a wide range of readers in lower key stage 2, including boys and possibly even those who have not yet caught the bug of reading for pleasure. A great book which deserves a place in the class library for independent reading but also one which has the potential for study both with the whole class and small groups.

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 2008

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