Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn

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Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn

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Buy Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A jolly time travel caper from a successful writer/illustrator combination. Great fun to read, and honesty triumphs in the end. Ideal for confident readers of 7 and up.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: July 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747585107

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When Jack goes to stay with his grandmother at her old house in a quiet country village, he isn't expecting to have an exciting stay. There's no computer, no Playstation, no DVD player. Quite how he is going to fill his time, Jack isn't sure. So when a gang of eighteenth century highwaymen break through a wall and into his bedroom on the very first night, you could say it was unexpected.

Lord Henry Vane is a gentleman thief. He likes to speak in rhyme, loves to flirt with the ladies, never hurts his victims, and gives some of his plunder to the poor. Lord Henry's smile could charm the birds from the trees. But, as Jack is uncomfortably aware, he is still a thief. Henry's gang comprises a bunch of good-natured, but intellectually-challenged bunglers. If it weren't for Henry, Jack feels, they'd be remarkably unsuccessful highwaymen. Except, perhaps, for Polly - a girl of about Jack's age, who is tremendously attached to Lord Henry, but is becoming equally ambivalent about thievery.

The ensuing adventure gallops apace between eighteenth and twenty-first centuries and is as good-hearted a caper as its young readers could possibly want. It's fun, it's energetic and it has a wonderfully camp cast of larger-than-life characters. Even Granny - a bit part player really - is benign, but eccentric. There are some lessons - nice people aren't always also good people; honesty is the best policy; love and friendship is worth more than money - but there's no banging of drums. Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout is just a jolly time travel caper about some funny and attractive characters with just enough darkness to benefit its light with some shade.

Vocabulary is nicely chosen; there are some challenging words - reassert, piercing, abundance - but nothing that won't be clearly understood in context and there is plenty of dialogue, keeping the narrative fresh and vigorous. It's all absolutely ideal for the seven to tens. I like Hamilton and Hearn. Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout is their fourth collaboration, they're all similar capers, but they introduce new characters each time and they have thankfully not subjected us to another endless series. I'm tired of series and in any case, I think children deserve better.

I don't suppose Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout will be a book they'll read over and over, or remember for years to come, but it's not trying to be one of those books. It's trying to be a fun, interesting story with some vigour and energy; a story to develop confidence in reading, and at that it succeeds remarkably well. Recommended.

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Older children interested in time travel and this period of history would love Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer.

Buy Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.com.

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