Billy and the Giant Adventure
352pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Billy and his friends know that Waterfall Woods is out of bounds; strange things are rumoured to have happened there and no one in their village has ventured past its walls for decades…
But when they discover a secret way in, Billy and his best friends, Anna, Jimmy and Andy, can’t resist the temptation to explore! Only to quickly discover that the woods are brimming with magic and inhabited by all sorts of unusual creatures, including a whole community of sprites who need the children’s help! But the woods themselves are in trouble. Everything is connected by the Rhythm, the beat that keeps nature in harmony and now it’s going wrong. But are Billy and his mates the ones to help?
Apart from having a celebrity’s name on the cover, even though this is first book for young readers, what makes this stand out from the myriad of others with a similar theme that have been released over the last few years, is that Oliver has drawn on his own experience of being dyslexic and thus accessibility has been a critical focus for both the print and audio editions have key design elements for ease of access. The print edition is in a sans serif font while the audio version has state-of-the-art sound effects, multiple voices including narration by the author so that the characters and situations are brought to life in “a fully immersive experience”.
It’s tough developing a love for reading when your brain can’t process written words efficiently, and particularly when there is such an emphasis on phonological strategies in early reading instruction, so to consciously support those with this issue so they can enjoy the sorts of stories their peers are reading is not just a breakthrough but the acknowledgement of the condition itself will give those with it a boost. Reading is something they can enjoy.