Book Review: You Won’t Believe This!

You Won’t Believe This! by Adam Baron, illustrated by Benji Davies
Published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Recommended Key Stages: 2
Year Group: 4-6

You Won’t Believe This by Adam Baron is a completely captivating read, one where humour and wit walks hand in hand alongside two intertwining mysteries. Beautifully illustrated by Benji Davies, it’s a funny, heartwarming (and, at times, heartbreaking) tale in which Cymbeline Igloo has to unravel the past in order to solve the mysteries of the present.

Cymbeline’s kind, empathetic nature leaves him with two main problems to solve. Firstly, someone is playing unthinkably horrible tricks on Mrs. Martin, his favourite teacher of all time and he cannot bear to see her suffer any more. Secondly, his best friend Veronique is worried about her Nanai, who has been refusing to eat for a number of days and is making herself seriously ill…

For me, this is definitely a sequel that lives up to Baron’s Carnegie-nominated debut novel (Boy Underwater). I felt a personal connection to both books as they are set in Blackheath, where I live and teach, and so many of the places in these books are very familiar to me. I also liked that there was a character of the same name – Miss Phillips!

This novel grabbed my attention from the moment I entered Cymbeline’s funny, honest and passionate mind. Cymbeline is instantly likeable and his stories around school and family life are completely relatable. I love the way Adam Baron writes such a wonderful first-person narrative. You are completely immersed in Cymbeline’s world, seeing everything through his eyes.

Despite its witty anecdotes and light-heartedness, the novel also carries poignant moments and more serious underlying themes at its core. Adam Baron expertly weaves together themes of friendship, family, loss, refugees and cultural identity.

Why is this book great for the classroom?

You Won’t Believe This is a great book to open up discussions in schools, particularly around the topic of refugees and cultural identities. These themes could be further explored through supporting non-fiction texts.

The book lends itself well to reading aloud and is likely to capture and hold children’s attention through Adam Baron’s creative use of language and clever combination of humour and intrigue.

There is plenty of scope to explore the novel’s engaging characters through activities such as drama, role on the wall, writing in character or responding to key parts of the text in role (writing a letter from Veronique to her Nanai persuading her to eat something, or a diary entry by one of the main characters for example), as well as exploring Benji Davies’ illustrations and how these add meaning to the narrative. I would recommend this text for UKS2 classrooms, or possibly a mature Year 4 class.

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Useful Resources

  • You can read an extract of this novel here.
  • Harper Collins has developed some Teaching Notes, which you can download for free here.
  • Author’s twitter: @adambaron5
  • Illustrator’s website:

Have you read this book or have you used it in your classroom? Let us know in the comments section below or find me on twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

Reading for Pleasure

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