Saturday, 3 May 2014
Review: Hank Zipzer - A Tale of Two Tails by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: May 1st, 2014 (TV tie-in edition)
Twelve-year-old Henry "Hank" Zipzer is a smart and resourceful boy with a unique perspective on the world. Hank has dyslexia, and when problems arise, he deals with them in a way no one else would - putting him on a direct collision course with his teachers and parents, who don't seem to appreciate his latest scheme as much as he thought they would... But Hank always remains positive and convinced that the next big plan will deliver - after all, tomorrow is another day! In A Tale of Two Tails, Hank and his sister Emily have both entered their pets into the school-mascot competition. Let battle commence!
I've seen this series of books around for a long time but never really had any inclination to read them. I don't know why exactly, but it's probably because they're co-written by a famous actor. I'm always wary of books like that. When two books from the series randomly showed up for review, I was all too happy to give them a go, and I'm really glad I did. I can now see why Hank Zipzer is such a popular character with children!
A Tale of Two Tails is lots of fun right from the start, when Hank and his friends make plans to train his dog, Cheerio, and enter him in a school dog show. What follows is a delightful tale of competition, friendship and laughter, of which there's plenty! This book made me laugh out loud quite a few times thanks to Hank's turn of phrase and crazy things the animals get up to, and I enjoyed my time in Hank's hectic life.
I remember reading somewhere that these books are great for children with learning difficulties, something that Hank Zipzer himself deals with on a daily basis. I can absolutely see how these would help and encourage anyone who finds learning harder than others - there's a focus on words and their meanings, as well as other areas of academia such as fractions and other mathematical stuff (eurgh, maths!). The text itself isn't too difficult to grasp, the stories are fun and the characters relatable. Anyone reading this will definitely feel like they're not alone when it comes to learning and needing to do it differently.
A Tale of Two Tails turned out to be better than I thought it would be, and I think I've learnt my lesson when it comes to veering away from books written by celebrities. Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver seem to have gone to great lengths to write for their target audience correctly, and they really do seem to love what they're doing. I look forward to revisiting Hank Zipzer and his extremely likeable family in other instalments of the series and I might even check out the TV show!