The Five of Us

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review

Five friends set off in their big yellow bus, with Big Eddie at the wheel. They head out into the countryside to enjoy a peaceful picnic. However, no sooner have they finished their sandwiches than calamity strikes the party - Big Eddie turns a disturbing shade of green and promptly passes out, leaving the children having to save the day.

And save the day they do. For these are no ordinary children - they are 'amazing'. For one thing, these are Quentin Blake characters - meaning an instantly appealing cast of exuberant personalities. Then there is the fact that they are also clearly amazingly good friends - the bond between them is almost tangible. Finally, there is the fact that they also happen to boast some rather unusual talents. Angie can spot a sparrow from five miles, Ollie can hear it sneeze and Simona and Mario can lift just about anything you care to name. And little Eric - well, he finds his rather surprising strength to glorious effect in the story's finale.

This book is testament to Blake's belief that all children need to be able find themselves in books. And despite the book's seemingly effortless inclusivity, he's thought very carefully about how to get it right. As a result, what stands out most is not the fact that the children might be disabled, or even the fact that they each have extraordinary abilities. What really makes them 'amazing' is the way they work together to problem-solve, using the skill of each individual to complement those of the rest of the group. The overriding message is that we can all find strength when we need it most, and that we are at our most effective when we all come together as a team.

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