Reviewed by Shenaz Bagshaw
A story that draws you in from the very first page, suited to UKS2.
This is a story about Marnus, a middle child who feels like he is the lowest in the pecking order in his family, next to his popular older brother and his entrepreneurial younger brother. One day a girl comes to his door with a questionnaire and life begins to change…
This story is narrated in the first person by Marnus, who is a very relatable character. I immediately began rooting for him and wanted to know how everything turned out. This is a funny story about friendships, family and community with plenty of laugh out loud moments. Jaco Jacobs, the author, is South African and the story is set in South Africa, so there is a smattering of South African terms, enough to give the book a flavour of the setting but none that would prevent the reader from understanding the story. There is a brief reference to life under apartheid, which may not be self-explanatory to a younger reader unaware of South African history, but it would be a great opportunity for further discussion.
Although this could be a great story for a teacher to read aloud to their class, it would not be suitable for all children: there is some reference to the fifteen year old brother earning money by charging girls for kissing lessons and giving Marnus wedgies, so clearly you would need to know your class and judge whether this would be appropriate and whether you would feel comfortable reading it to them.
The blurb recommends it for readers ready to move on from the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series and I can see why, as although this does not have pictures on every page (there are a few pictures) the dynamics of family life reminded me a little of both the Diary of the Wimpy Kid and Horrid Henry series.
A Good Day for Climbing Trees by Jaco Jacobs was published 12th April 2018 by OneWorld Publications
Shenaz Bagshaw is a Reading Specialist Teacher at St James CE Primary School in Northampton