I loved Jenny Pearson's debut book, The Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, that was released last year - it was one of my top fiction reads of 2020. So you can imagine my utter joy when I was given early access to her brand new book…The Incredible Record Smashers.
Lucy loves fixing things, it is one of her favourite things to do when she gets to spend time with her ‘aunty’ Sheila. Lately, Lucy has been spending quite a lot of time at aunty Sheila’s as her mum is often sad and is not able to care for her. It is the most recent of these bouts of sadness that sees Lucy back with her not-real-aunty for the start of the summer holidays. Lucy is desperate to ‘fix’ her mum and the opportunity presents itself after she finds a photo of a smiley mum and a pop heartthrob from the 80’s. The pop-star is none other than Paul Castellini, the head judge on new TV talent show Record Smashers. All Lucy needs to do is come up with a record-breaking attempt that is worthy of a TV appearance and then she can ask Paul round for tea and then mum will be happy again. And Lucy, with the help of friend Sandesh, is determined to do whatever it takes to make it happen…
Jenny Pearson is a primary school teacher and her knowledge of what gets kids reading shines through in what is another heart-warming, funny and eventful read. It is big on adventure, big on laughs, big on world record-breaking attempts and explores very big issues. Pearson seamlessly weaves emotional moments into a fast-paced and funny read that had me smiling from start to finish and will help all readers to understand that it is one-hundred percent OK to not feel OK.
Amidst record attempts involving kumquat catching and hurdling in flippers, Pearson sensitively looks at the effects on a child of a parent who is battling a mental health issue, in this case depression. Through Lucy, she explores feelings, confused emotions and efforts to help. Conversations on mental health are becoming more prevalent in primary school classrooms and books like this are the perfect stimulus for opening up discussions. Children need to see themselves and their situations represented in books and I’m sure that many readers will find comfort and strength from Lucy and her mum.
The supporting cast of characters are some of my absolute favourites. Aunty Sheila is a bright beacon of hope - both in the clothes that she wears and her larger than life personality. And Sandesh is the friend that everyone needs. Despite dealing with his own issues - he is missing that close connection to his parents who work away a lot - he is an endless bundle of positivity and helps Lucy understand what the true meaning of friendship is.
Full of heart, laughs and plenty of record breaking attempts. Jenny Pearson has nailed it!
Recommended for 9+.
With thanks to Jenny Pearson and Usborne for the advanced reader copy that was received via Netgalley. The Incredible Record Smashers is due for publication on 29th April 2021.