'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 11 May 2020

Review: The Besties Make a Splash

The Besties are back again, and this time they’re off to the beach for a swim.

When Ruby wants to stay in the water and Oliver wants to explore the rock pools, for the first time in maybe forever, the Besties decide to split up and go hang out with other kids.

But funny friend Zac and the coolest girl in school maybe aren’t who Oliver and Ruby expected them to be.

Does distance make the heart grow fonder?

The Besties is a fresh and funky series for junior readers just starting out on their independent reading journeys. 

The stories are short and fun, with lots of illustrations to help junior readers transition to longer novels. 

The text on each page is also limited to about 40 words (or less), ensuring the reading experience isn’t overwhelming for beginners.

I love that Ruby and Oliver’s adventures are real and relatable. Humour is woven into every story, but like The Besties to the Rescue and The Besties Show and Smell, Make a Splash is about the normal things kids do and the everyday emotional challenges that arise when navigating life, school and friendships.

A key feature of all the books in the series is also play, and the power and importance of letting kids immerse themselves in imaginative play. Author Felice Arena has said of his brainstorming process in coming up with the series:

“How about two best friends – besties – who share in everyday adventures at home, in their backyards, and at school? And what if I make sure that the stories are not over-complicated and weighed down in heavy narrative, or bound by over-the-top plots and jeopardy? What if the dialogue and action was entertaining and visually engaging?”

And, truly, every idea Arena mentions above has been nailed in the series. These are books about everyday life. They are not overly complicated and the dialogue and action is HIGHLY entertaining and visually engaging.

If you know junior readers just starting to read independently, I highly recommend checking out The Besties series. And to check out what else Felice Arena had to say about the series, check out his article How Play Brings Out the Best(ie) in All of Us.

Title: The Besties Make a Splash
Author: Felice Arena
Illustrator: Tom Jellett
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $9.99
Publication Date: 28 April 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760890964
For ages: 7 - 9
Type: Junior Fiction, Illustrated Fiction