You Won't Believe This

You Won't Believe This

By Author / Illustrator

Adam Baron


Friends and family

Age range(s)



HarperCollins Publishers




Paperback / softback




From the author of bestselling debut Boy Underwater comes another moving, hilarious novel of friendship and family secrets, which shows that people are people, no matter where they're from.

Here's something you won't believe: someone is doing TERRIBLE things to Mrs Martin, Cymbeline Igloo's favourite teacher of all time.   Cymbeline has to find the culprit (after he's learned what 'culprit' means). He's also got to help his friend Veronique, whose grandma is dangerously ill. It seems Nanai has a secret, connected to her arrival in the UK as a Boat Person from Vietnam, a traumatic journey in which she lost her twin sister. Can Cymbeline figure out the mystery in time?   One thing is for sure: even the most unexpected people can change your life in wonderful ways . . .




Somebody is playing spiteful tricks on Miss Martin, Cymbeline Igloo's favourite teacher. Horrified to find himself under suspicion, he is determined to find the culprit. However, he has a second mystery to unravel as Nanai, his best friend Veronique's grandmother, is dangerously ill. It seems she has a secret - something about her past when she came to England as a refugee from Vietnam. Cymbeline is determined to solve these mysteries, but will he notice what is going on closer to home?

You Won't Believe This is a wonderful follow-up to Cymbeline's first appearance in Boy, Underwater. Kind, sympathetic and loyal, he astutely observes others and pieces together the clues, enabling him to help others. His friendship with Veronique is wonderful and his heartfelt desire to help her in her hour of need speaks volumes about his character. He also comes to understand that people can change - and surprise you.

Adam Baron cleverly weaves information about the plight of Vietnamese boat people into the heart of the story as the reader learns more of Nanai's experiences. Descriptions of the celebrations for Chinese New Year are vibrant, bringing China Town vividly to life. Nanai is a wonderful character and the strength of her relationship with her granddaughter is a real strength of the story.

Poignant moments are mixed with humorous ones in this clever novel which challenges the reader to think. An excellent, enjoyable read - highly recommended!

400 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


This is the second story of Cymbeline Igloo (definitely one of the very best names for a character...ever!) The first book, Boy Underwater, explored issues of mental health and Cymbeline's relationship with his mother. I must confess I did not love that book, but I have been pleasantly surprised by You Won't Believe This.

Someone is doing terrible things to Cymbeline's favourite teacher, Mrs Martin, and Cymbeline and his friends have to find out who. As well as this, his friend Veronique's grandmother is ill and it has something to do with a secret connected to her arrival in the UK from Vietnam. Cymbeline has to save the day and get to the bottom of the two mysteries.

Cymbeline is an engaging and amusing character who narrates the story in a humorous way, whilst at the same time touching upon real issues of mental health, moral dilemmas and subjects such as refugees. In this book he really finds an authentic voice and guides the reader through the minutiae of his life. Whilst some slightly implausible things do happen (I'm not going to spoil the plot by saying what they are!) it is all part of the joy of the story.

This is a very timely book with its theme of refugees. Whilst it is referring to a time in the past, the problem of refugees fleeing from war and destruction and using desperate means to escape, is still very much of the present day. This book, suitable for Years 5 and 6 (ages 9+), explores the issues in a way that will not terrify, but horrify with the lengths some people have to go through to reach safety.

There were also moments that were laugh out loud funny and I would be really interested to see if child readers would pick up on all the clever ideas in the narrative.

Cymbeline spends a lot of time not feeling particularly good about himself, and yet he is a real hero; he just doesn't realise it.

400 pages / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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