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The Impossible Boy

The Impossible Boy

Published: 11 Jun 2020

Paperback / softback, 256 pages

Recommended for age 7+

By Ben Brooks

Illustrated by George Ermos

Published by Hachette Children's Group

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Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing exactly where they usually sat.

Slowly, the front door opened and out stepped a boy. 'My name's Sebastian Cole,' he said. 'But you already know that.'When Oleg and Emma invent a new classmate called Sebastian, they are amazed when he appears - very much real - in their secret den.

Sebastian isn't like the rest of their classmates. He's never eaten pizza, he's not sure what goose bumps are, and he has a satchel that seems to hold an endless supply of hot ice cream. But as the trio begin their adventures, more impossible things keep happening, from a runaway goat appearing at school to a sighting of some snowwomen walking down the road.

Things soon take a turn for the dangerous when the three friends are pursued by the mysterious Institute of Unreality, who want to capture and erase Sebastian, restoring order to the world. With the help of a cowboy gardener, an imprisoned scientist, and the rest of their class, can Emma and Oleg protect their new friend and keep the magic of the impossible alive?

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Reviewed by Lucy Timmons

The Impossible Boy is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Ben Brooks has followed suit as with Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different in terms of enthralling reading.

Oleg and Emma, two close friends, have lost their friend, who moved away. To fill the void, they created a fictional friend ‘Sebastian Cole’.

Sebastian, however, does not stay a figment of their imaginations and enters their world with gusto, excitement, a huge heart, and generosity of spirit. The story itself is a metaphor of one of the underlying messages of the book that nothing is impossible, especially in stories. There is a pulse and a rhythm to this narrative that keeps the reader hooked. Strange characters are encountered throughout the book who intrigue and provoke questions.

Sebastian entering their worlds, takes Emma and Oleg to exciting and risky places. Both characters are launched out of their comfort zones and learn huge lessons about who they are in the process. The reader cares for Oleg and Emma; they have trials and tribulations to overcome. And in the grim reality of their truths, Sebastian’s gives them a porthole to suspend their disbelief and escape into an adventure, an adventure that calls on their families, friends and the strange school premises manager!

A true gift for a reader and any KS2 classroom. There is much discussion in the teacher world at the moment about children developing character and resilience. The Impossible Boy is a perfect accompaniment to this idea. I, for one, will be investing in this book for our upper junior classrooms and, of course, for my nieces and nephews. Sebastian’s positivity, joie de vivre and adventurous spirit are infectious, and much needed: as he said, …to be alive is a wonderful adventure, make every second count.

Lucy Timmons is a professionally trained actress and Executive Head teacher based in South East London. Her keen passion is the use of 'Rehearsal Room Pedagogy' as both a medium to create a constructivist approach to learning for children and professionals.