The Strongest Boy in the World
Written and Illustrated by
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Traditional chinese folk tales offer a wealth of amazing and interesting stories to mine, so it's fantastic to see more and more appearing in the children's picture book format.
Jessica Souhami's adaptation of this particular tale is utterly wonderful and completely drew us in - so let's dive in further and investigate "The Strongest Boy in the World".
Young Kaito is a strong and wily youth with a grand ambition - To become the most fearsome wrestler in China, and win the annual national wrestling contest held in Kyoto. Kaito feels that he has a great chance of winning, but on meeting a girl carrying water up a nearby hill, he realises that he'll need a heck of a lot of training and toughening up as Hana (the girl) easily overpowers Kaito and drags him back to her hilltop cottage.
"You need training, skinny boy!" she laughs - and sets about turning Kaito from a weedy reedy boy into a strong and powerful wrestler. Hana's training schedule (and awesome meals) soon have the desired effect but Kaito is still small and slender, so when the other Sumo Wrestlers see him, they laugh and scoff.
The first match begins, and Kaito sees off the first opponent with ease. Then the next, and the next! Could Kaito be in with a chance of winning the fame and fortune that goes along with the highest wrestling accolade, supreme champion?
We'll leave you to discover the story's end - a truly motivating and inspirational tale that is underpinned with the positive message that if you really want something badly enough, and put in enough hard work, you can achieve practically anything!
Charlotte really loved Hana and thought she was exactly the sort of book character she'd love to be more like (particularly if Hana is so brilliant at defeating a would-be tickler!)
Charlotte's best bit: When naughty Kaito attempts to make Hana drop her water bucket by tickling her, but gets a huge surprise of his own!
Daddy's Favourite bit: A hugely positive message with absolutely fantastic papercut illustrations to suit the setting and tone of the story. Really fabulous!
(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books)