The Wickford Doom by Chris Priestley and Vladimir Stankovic
|The Wickford Doom by Chris Priestley and Vladimir Stankovic
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Robert James
|Summary: Incredibly atmospheric chiller which will delight children. And it's dyslexia friendly too.
|Date: January 2015
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke
|External links: Author's website
Following Harry’s father’s death in the war, he and his mother learn that they’ve inherited a bequest from a relative. When they arrive to claim it, though, they find that they’ve been the victims of a dying man’s last cruel prank. But there are local tales of missing children and a strange painting called the Doom, and Harry quickly learns that there may be something far more evil than a nasty joke to worry about. Can he fight back against it?
This is my second Chris Priestley, following on from The Last of the Spirits, his retelling of the classic Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. As with that book, I’m amazed by how quickly he builds up a really chilling atmosphere. Within just a few chapters he creates an incredible sense of impending doom (pardon the pun!) which never lets up until the end of the book. Harry is a compelling character whom I definitely wanted to see succeed, and I particularly liked his relationship with his mother. The book also benefits from building up brilliantly to a superb, extremely exciting climax – the pacing is excellent. As well, Priestley’s writing style is wonderful, he uses simple but well-chosen language perfectly. His writing is complemented perfectly by the stunning illustrations from Vladimir Stankovic which form the header of each chapter.
Barrington Stoke have designed a special font where each character is distinct and pulls the reader on to read the next word. It's printed on an off-white paper, which reduces the glare which can distract some readers and the paper is substantial enough to ensure that there's no bleed through from the reverse of the page. The spacing between words and lines has been carefully judge to give the best reading experience and the text has not been justified as this can mean that readers get lost on the page. The book has clearly defined chapters to give natural rest breaks and it's not just the reader which benefits from that - many parents and carers feel the same way. Most young readers, not just those with dyslexia, will find the books easier to read and more enjoyable. This book has a reading age of 8+, but an interest age of 8 to 13.
I think fans of this would also like another Barrington Stoke book which Vladimir Stankovic has illustrated, Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads by David Almond and Vladimir Stankovic.
The Wickford Doom by Chris Priestley and Vladimir Stankovic is in the Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2015.
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