This book is a wonderful demonstration of creative writing for children. It shows children that they can make up a story using the characters around them and change it according to their audience. Antonio is a small boy who is captured by brigands and made to tell them a story because they are bored. At first he says he doesn’t know any but, when they insist, he draws on the brigands themselves as characters for his story. As he begins to speak they interrupt with suggestions, “I’m fed up with wolves”… “and mountains”… “let’s have a flatter story” (pg. 14-15), suggesting that a storyteller needs to think of the kinds of content that their readers will enjoy or relate to.
As well as making us think about the way we construct a story, this book questions our assumptions about stereotypes, challenging us to think about how we conform to these in our creative writing. For example, the brigands themselves are enthralled by the story, they are scared when the bears and wolves are introduced and delighted when a banquet is suggested. They are not fierce and violent but just as excitable as any person can be when listening to a new story.
Antonio causes a bit of a stir in the fifth chapter by stating that at the end of the treasure hunt the brigands in his story “shared [the treasure] out” (pg. 56), to which the chief brigand replies “you got that wrong…any treasure is the chiefs” (pg.56). This leads to an argument, which reminds us that a story should make us think – a story that makes us question what we take for granted stays with us for longer than one which doesn’t challenge us at all. This book could be used to great effect with children in KS2 (8+), while a younger audience would also benefit from having the story read to them. Detailed pictures accompany the text, helping to set the scene and demonstrate how the descriptions Antonio uses in his story come from the scenes he draws upon around him. Children will love the hilarious conclusion as well as the colourful characters and descriptions.
Please add your review here.
- Reading Age:
- Reading Aloud Age: