The Book of Legends

The Book of Legends
Lenny Henry, illustrated by Kenos Ferrell
Macmillan Children’s Books

Fran and Bran are twelve year old twins who live with their mother in a small town in the Midlands; she is the storyteller at the Once Upon a Wow bookshop and loves to tell them stories, some of which are woven into the narrative of this book. During a camping trip four years previously, their Dad disappeared suddenly in a lightning bolt and since then Mum’s stories – the Tales of Koto Utama and the Nine Dominions, have become even more important.

Then history repeats itself, for on another camping trip Mum too vanishes, seemingly snatched up in a bolt of lightning. This leaves Fran and Bran in the care of Auntie Madge from the bookshop. Bran is deaf and both children go to a British Sign Language school where Bran is often in trouble because of the way he responds to being teased. The one thing that helped calm him down was to hear one of Mum’s stories; but when Madge is called into school to hear that Bran is threatened with expulsion she decides it’s time they went away to a boarding school.

However, that doesn’t happen thanks to Mum’s book of stories which provides a portal through which they are transported on a quest to solve the mystery of their parents’ disappearance. What an amazing adventure it proves to be. Along the way they face evil princes, murder fairies, mud monsters and even Vikings. Fortunately, though they receive help from Wilma, the Wizard’s Wife, and Zachary, the wisecracking Zebracorn.

There is SO much to love about this book: the interweaving of stories within the overall narrative, the strength and determination of the twins and their use of groan-worthy jokes, the diverse representation and inclusive nature of the characters, the author’s wit and humour, a satisfying finale and Keenon Ferrell’s black and white illustrations. Also included is a BSL alphabet chart so readers can learn to sign their own names.

A cracking tale to share with a KS2 class and for individual readers.

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