By Ben Gerrish
Chris Hoy, the most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time, has teamed up with renowned children’s author Joanna Nadin to create the Flying Fergus series of books. Centred around Fergus Hamilton, an enthusiastic 9 year old, who (like all of us) has an overwhelming urge to ride. But above it all he wants a top of the range ‘Sullivan Swift’ bike – unfortunately times are hard in the Hamilton household and a rusty old hand me down bike that used to be his dad’s, lovingly restored by his Grandad, has to do. It turns out to have a bit more to it than meets the eye and when the pedals spin backwards it gives Fergus the ability to travel to another world, Nevermore. where bikes are outlawed and his dad has been imprisoned by King Woebegot. The ongoing mission to win the The Great Cycle Challenge, with his partners in crime Daisy and Chimp the dog, is contrasted with his adventures in Nevermore, where he begins the hunt for his long lost dad and starts reviving bikes from the bike graveyard for more adventurous locals.
As well as the main characters there are a selection of well rounded personalities throughout the stories. There’s the obligatory bad guys Wesley Wallace and Dermot Eggs with their Nevermore alter egos, Prince Waldorf and Dimmock, plus good guys Fergus’ Hercules’ Hopefuls team mates Minnie McLeod and Calamity Coogan. My daughter especially enjoyed the run down of the characters on the first few pages of each book, and constantly referred back to their mug shots when the new characters entered the book.
Hoy says: ‘My hope is that Flying Fergus excites and inspires children, opening their eyes to the freedom and adventures two wheels can offer with just a little hard work’. In my opinion Hoy and Nadin have struck upon a winning formula. The core message of hard work and enthusiasm making things happen, combined with an underlying magical story line – all tied together in a ‘bikes are awesome’ package – makes for a motivational and enjoyable tale.
The books are aimed at 5 to 8 years olds and my 6 year old and I shared the role of reading with no problems. A nice flow with understandable use of language and a selection of fitting illustrations by Clare Elsom meant that it was really enjoyable either way and the chorus of ‘one more chapter’ every time one came to end was testament to the enjoyment she got from it. We managed the first book together in one sitting and have read them both a couple of times in the month we have had them. There were numerous conversations sparked too, about how she could race fastest around the local track, and how she could put together a team. We are close to holding our own try outs with her pick of the kids from school.
We had the pleasure of reading the first two, in what is to be a series of six book from the duo, in addition to a non-fiction book that plans to encourage kids to ride safe, record their cycling activity and have fun on their bikes.
Overall: For bike mad parents out there this is a great way to sneak some cycling enthusiasm into your kid’s reading list.
|Tested:||by Ben Gerrish for|