By Author / Illustrator
Friends and family
Paperback / softback
From the author of bestselling and Carnegie-nominated debut BOY UNDERWATER comes a moving and hilarious novel for 10+ readers about friendships, family secrets, mystery - and life-changing hidden treasure...
Jessica is playing with her family at the river when she finds a dirty, bedraggled teddy bear in the water.
She has no idea that it will change everything, forever.
Meanwhile, Cymbeline comes home from school to find that his mum's house has been broken into - and the thieves seemed oddly focused on his toys. Thank goodness he had Not Mr Fluffy, his Bear of Most Extreme Importance, with him.
Soon, Jessica and Cymbeline find themselves swept up in a mystery that spans decades, threatens their families, and turns their lives upside down.
But sometimes, just maybe, a new life can be a really wonderful thing...
Cymbeline Igloo (the boy with the best name in any book, anywhere) is back. This is his third outing and carries on the story from the previous books, though it could be read independently. Coupled with Cymbeline's story is the story of a new character, Jessica, and her family.
Both Jessica and Cymbeline have to deal with difficult issues; for Jessica, the illness of her father, and for Cymbeline his mother's new partner and children moving in. The story revolves around a spat of burglaries and cuddly bears. Jessica finds a bear in the river and Cymbeline experiences a burglary that oddly seems to focus on his soft toys. It is a bit of a mystery why anyone would be interested in the soft toys and not his favourite football shirt- signed no less!
Both children are undergoing huge changes in their lives and both struggle in different ways with these changes. This aspect seems quite real; the anxieties and the pressures that change brings. Jessica is worried about her father - his illness briefly specified whilst the seriousness of it is the key to her storyline. Cymbeline is upset at the sudden and difficult change of not only having to share his mother, but also getting used to complete strangers in his own home.
The book is written in the same engaging first-person style as the previous books, with Cymbeline and Jessica taking it in turns to narrate. There are some laugh out loud funny moments as well as quite a lot of angst for the protagonists.
The plot is slightly contrived, and that aspect feels much less real than the issues the characters are facing and also the plots in the previous books. Nevertheless, it is still very nice to reacquaint oneself with Cymbeline, who must be one of the most unusual characters in children's books, not just because of his name.
The story is engaging and I found myself racing through to see what happened next; I think many children will find this an enjoyable and also thought-provoking read.
400 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Things are not going well for Cym. His dad has failed to turn up to take him away for the weekend and when he returns home, he finds there has been a break-in. Things go from bad to worse when he realises that his mother's fiance, Stephan, and his two daughters are moving in and everything seems to be changing.
Meanwhile, whilst on a day out with her family, Jess finds a bedraggled teddy bear which she rescues from a river. She is also facing change: her father is ill, putting the family under a lot of financial and emotional pressure. Events conspire to bring the two families together in an exciting adventure with a satisfying conclusion.
This is the third book about Cymbeline Igloo, a very endearing boy, who, in this story, is struggling to cope with the change from it being just him and his mum to having a house full of people. His sense of anger and frustration at the situation are well handled as well as is his desire for his parents to reunite against all odds.
Family is very much at the heart of this story and Cym learns much about his - new and old - as the story develops, recognising what each contributes to his life and how they can all fit together. Cym's relationship with Mabel, Stephan's younger daughter, contrasts well with his reaction to Ellen, the older daughter, which leads him to consider events from a different perspective.
Jess's family is also facing major changes due to her father's illness. She feels her role is changing as she needs to help her mother protect her siblings from unfolding events. Sibling rivalries and squabbles are brilliantly portrayed in this household, but also a great sense of fun and love.
The adventure which connects these two different households eventually brings them together, solving mysteries from the past and present and reuniting Cym with an old friend.
The story is told from alternating viewpoints, progressing at a very pleasing pace with lots of action and humour, including the maddest game of poo sticks ever! Although it would be a shame to miss the two previous books about Cym, 'This Wonderful Thing' can easily by read as a stand alone.
400 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
This is the third book involving Cymbelline Igloo and it does not disappoint. Each chapter is written from the point of view of the two main characters (Cymbelline and Jessica). They do not know it, but their lives are about to become incredibly complicated!
Written with such assurance, the reader is laughing one minute and on the edge of tears the next. How many authors would have their characters playing Pooh Sticks with an actual pooh?!
The dual mysteries slowly unravel and keep you guessing right up to the end, as well as the other emotional storylines that play out alongside them. Another wonderful story from Adam Baron.
400 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Andrew Mullen
Suggested Reading Age 9+