Cover Image: Billy and the Giant Adventure

Billy and the Giant Adventure

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Member Reviews

This was a fun, family read. A great adventure for those not quite ready to read alone, they will love this read aloud.

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A father tells his two children a bedtime story about Billy, and his three friends, who enter a magical forest full of sprites, Boona monsters and giants. When they discover that something is disrupting the Rhythm of the forest, they decide to get to the bottom of it.

This was SO STINKING CUTE, set in the 1980s. I really really loved it, and think it will be enjoyed by so many young readers. There is a big focus on environmentalism, which I think was done in a very digestible way for the target audience. I listened to this on audiobook, and thought it was so well done. It was a full cast audio, with different sound effects thrown in as well. The illustrations are also so fun, and really incorporate nicely into the overall story. All of the creatures in the story had fun personalities that came out the more they were on page. I also loved how Billy overcame his insecurities through out the story as well, he had a great character arc.

I'm hoping there will be sequels and more adventures for Billy and his friends!

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I knew this was going to be a cute book but I was not prepared for the awesomeness. I purchased a copy from my local bookstore and it is even more beautiful in physical form. I can’t wait to sell this to my customers this holiday.

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I was excited to see a book of fiction by the renowned chef Jamie Oliver. There are pieces of a good, environmentally conscious story in here, which I always appreciate. It's also scattered with some fantastic illustrations. And there were diverse characters, with some disability representation (dyslexia), which was great to see.

But... As much as I wanted to love this book, it just didn't do it for me. It felt scattered and lacked cohesion—a bit all over the place. It's almost like there are 3 separate stories that have been awkwardly patchworked together.

And the writing, itself, felt a bit remedial—basic, simple. Whereas most middle grade books have a general appeal, regardless of reader age, the diction in this book is more appropriate for elementary readers, or the youngest of the middle grade readers.

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This is a cute debut kid’s book that seems aimed at the lower end of middle grade. I think 8 would be the right age for the humour.

The story itself seemed a little directionless at times which in a way fits the idea that a dad is telling his kids a bedtime story, almost making it up as he goes along. I don’t know if it quite works in a novel and felt like it needed a bit more focus so we could get more world building and character development. The main characters seem a bit flat and by the end I didn’t feel like I knew any of them very well besides maybe Billy. The magical creatures were fun and the idea of this magical woods filled with Sprites and Giants was definitely a plus but again there wasn’t much depth to them so you didn’t get as emotionally invested. I’m hoping in the next book there is more time spent fleshing them and the world out a bit.

There is some really great messaging in the story about environmentalism and being in tune with nature. Bullying is also addressed but again it was in passing in the beginning and wasn’t addressed again. Also the way he deals with his bully kinda felt like bullying or blackmail which felt wrong. The section where the kids infiltrate a factory farm seemed way out of left field from where the story began and pretty unlikely (or ill advised) that four kids would sneak into a giant farm and take photos and instigate an exposé. Didn’t love that the kids were lying to their parents and forging signatures either. Again seemed out of place. He also addresses dyslexia and how it can affect a person’s self esteem as others don’t always understand. He stressed the importance of acceptance and finding your own unique solutions to problems which was wonderful. I’m sure it will help lots of kids dealing with dyslexia and also help other kids be more accepting and understanding of others.

We were definitely left with some unanswered questions that we are told will be addressed in a future book. I’m curious to see where the next instalment takes us from where he left off.

I received an early digital reader copy through Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Such a well written children's book. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the story. The characters were so well written I was very invested in their adventure

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"One pinch of adventure, a dash of friendship, a sprinkle of mystery and a HUGE spoonful of magic...Jamie Oliver, bestselling author and internationally renowned chef, delivers the perfect recipe for a page-turning children's fiction debut!

Billy and his friends know that Waterfall Woods is out of bounds; strange things are rumored 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! With magical battles, a long-lost mythical city, fantastical flying machines, epic feasts and one GIANT rescue - not to mention some mouth-watering recipes at the back - get ready for an adventure you'll never forget!"

Jamie Oliver probably only actually wrote the recipes, but as long as it has his joy and enthusiasium for life then that's all I need.

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This book has multiple messages that are well presented for the young reader. The author tackles dyslexia and learning, friendships, family and the environment in one easy to read story.

Billy has dyslexia and is struggling in school, but he has the support of his parents and three friends that help him see the "Billy-Boy Way" is the better way! Throughout the story the friends meet Sprites, Giants, Boona monsters and real live human monsters. They tackle a mystery in the forest that is created by a human "farm" and is destroying the Sprites way of life and the "rhythm" of nature. Through a little ingenuity and a little risk taking, Billy and his friends help end the environmental damage and restore the forest for the Sprites.

This book is a bit sugary. It is filled with some exciting parts,but the kids are never in real danger and they are always very nice to each other and the Sprites and Giants. Even when attacked by the Boona's they fight back ,but are nice about it. There is also a segment where the kids are trying to get information and photos of the environmental damage caused by the "farm" that is a bit unbelievable. I'm not sure four small kids would be able to cross a fenced &guarded yard, stop an industrial sized fan and climb into a ventilation system with out being caught, BUT it is a kids book and we do have to suspend reality sometimes!

This would be a great book for a young reader who enjoys stories about adventure, friendship, fantasy and the environment.

I received a free e-ARC from Penguin Random House Canada, Tundra Books and Netgalley for my honest review

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Jamie Oliver has written twenty-six cookbooks and I'm so pleased he "cooked" this children's book now.

This is a fun story filled with magic and environmental awareness that young readers will enjoy. A dad tells a story to their children about a 9-year-old and his friends. I also think this is a good book to read aloud for family time. Kids like when parents are theatrical and make the voices of the characters and this story has a few fun characters like the Sprite Basil who is quite funny and unique.

Billy and the others find magical creatures in the woods (a place the adults fear, but there is a reason for the fear). The children will do all they can to keep the balance and Rhythm, meaning: being a child is not an excuse for not protecting our planet. We all have to do our part, with or without magic. It's a fast read, they discover, fix, unveil, understand, and solve a lot of mysteries, problems and acknowledge responsibility.
Another good lesson is that when we're in a bad place or frustrated without answers we should try to look at things from another angle. This group of friends is very supportive.

The book has simple recipes at the end that are meant to be done in the presence of a grown-up. Yay for more family time! One of the recipes is my favorite of all time.

Amazing artwork and illustrations. I'm a big fan of Mónica Armiño's work. They frame the pages, add humor to the descriptions and the character design/world is amazing. Love the hardcover format, added to my collection.

So excited for the next volume and hope this team (author and same illustrator) continues to work on this series together.

Thank you, publisher and net galley for the ARC. My opinions are my own and honest.

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Arc Copy...Other surprised this wasn't a cooking related fantasy seeing who the author is, it was a decent middle grade fantasy with important "take care of nature" theme, descriptive food imagery and it's illustrated! Although I felt it could benefit from a longer expended narrative, to let the story "shimmer" at times.

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Are you ready to step into the world of Waterfall Woods?

I’ve been following Jamie Oliver for most of his career. He’s an upstanding person and an outstanding chef. My shelves are filled with many of his 26 cookbooks. Reading and reviewing his first children’s story was my honour.

I love that Jamie’s personality shines through this book. It’s written with encouragement for those who, like Jamie, struggle in school. For those with reading difficulties, he encourages them to get caught up in the imagination and wonder and to not stress about getting the words right. Jamie uses encouraging words to help struggling children find their way - The Billy-Boy Way - just like the main character. For those who are bullied, he reminds them that “you just gotta rise about it - the best way to get a bully is to kill them with kindness.” In a world where revenge is prevalent, this is a welcome message.

I also love that his past has influenced this book so much. For those of us who follow Jamie, we can see his childhood friends, Gennaro, his parents' pub (the inspiration for the Green Giant), and his grandparents’ words of wisdom shine through. I giggled each time I came across a Jamie-ism like ‘a few cheeky fries’ and the references to farts…the ‘panicked fart’ had me spewing my coffee.

This book may have been written for children, but I loved how it took me back to my childhood with the references to scotch eggs, sausage rolls, and packets of Hula Hoops. If you are considering reading this with your children, DO IT. It’s precious memory-making time.

As Jamie matured his focus on doing what’s right took prevalence and it’s very evident in this book, too. I loved his focus on ‘the Rhythm’ which was woven throughout, about tidying up before you went out to play and about remembering your manners. These aren’t often mentioned in children’s books.

The expression I’m stealing, Jamie? “What the jammy doughnut is going on?”

I’m eagerly anticipating book two!

I was gifted this copy by Penguin Random House Canada, Tundra Books and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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