By Author / Illustrator
Serena Patel, Louise Forshaw
Paperback / softback
Try as he might, Arun simply cannot wriggle his way out of taking the maths test at school. Instead, he must learn to face his fears in this encouraging and relatable school story from Serena Patel.
Maths test? Nightmare! Arun is determined to get out of a Maths test at school. But how? A school-wide protest against all tests? Pretending to be sick? He's ready to try anything, but maybe he's not the only one who feels this way, and maybe in the end it's better to face your fears?
Test Trouble is a brilliantly relatable book for all older primary and younger secondary school students written by author, Serena Patel, from dyslexia friendly publisher, Barrington Stoke. The protagonist Arun is not looking forward to an imminent maths test and his anxiety escalates when he discovers it will be timed. His worry about being unable to pass the test worsens as the fateful day draws nearer and instead of revising, Arun wonders how he can get out of the test. His initial attempts at activism fail so Arun is forced to consider more duplicitous ways to avoid the test. However, as he plans the various schemes to avoid the test, he also discovers good advice and wisdom from his family and other people around him. Eventually, he makes a positive decision through helping another student and the trauma of taking the test turns into the beginning of a positive, life-affirming friendship.
Serena Patel uses the real life experience of assessment stress to accurately describe how many students may experience anxiety at school. She uses humour and pathos to bring Arun to life on the pages as he becomes increasingly panicked by the test into contemplating making the wrong decisions. The options Arun considers are examined in a way which enables him to make his own decisions and learn from them, making the story more powerful for the reader reading for empathy.
The text is accessible for those who find reading challenging and the chapters are short to encourage those developing their reading stamina. The monochrome illustrations by Louise Forshaw are engaging, inclusive and break up the narrative. Highly recommended.
88 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+