Tuesday 12 September 2017

Hopeless Heroes Children's Book Series by Stella Tarakson Review for Sweet Cherry Publishing

Just occasionally I'm asked to take another look at something I've previously reviewed and this is the case with Stella Tarakson's Hopeless Heroes books. The second book in the series is due to be released in February 2018 and the first is receiving a reprint, with a bold, bright new cover. These editions will have larger text, less words per page and a slight re-write that is suitable for younger independent readers aged around 7+.

We reviewed the first book in the series when it was first released in June. In February it'll be renamed Hopeless Heroes: Here Comes Hercules! This is a sneak preview...

This is the tale of Tim, a young boy who struggles a little since losing his father. He has to help his Mum with housework and spends quite a bit of time alone while she's at work, so he imagines that things in his house come alive. One day though, he breaks a very precious antique Greek vase and something does come to life in his living room - the Ancient Greek demigod Hercules!

The stories are crazy and zany and make my boys laugh aloud. Tim isn't entirely a good boy, he's a lot more human and easy for children to relate to.

The illustrations have remained the same heavy black line drawings from illustrator Nick Roberts, and they suit very well. Think classic Ancient Greek art fused with more modern cartoon style. Tim himself is really very sweet with his freckles.

The second book is a brand new story - Hopeless Heroes: Hera's terrible Trap! This starts with a short recap reminder of events in the first book, which is great background and scene-setting for anyone who hasn't read Here Comes Hercules.

Obviously one of the stars of this book is Hera - and she's not so much a hero as a villain. Accompanied by Hermes, she intends to get Hercules away from Tim and trap him forever. The Ancient Greek history and mythology that is woven into these stories is great, it makes me smile every time.

Both of the Hopeless Heroes books are funny and light-hearted, but the storylines are not immature, they have depth and compassion. Tim and other characters live and act in situations children find familiar and they're actually great books for encouraging empathy and understanding in children. Sometimes we all have to spend Saturday afternoon at the garden centre and sometimes we all like to escape the real world for a while...

These are great story books and both of my boys have enjoyed reading them. The characters and likeable, the humour really easy to visualise and the stories may not be believable, but they sound like just the thing every bored youngster would love to happen to disturb them from cleaning...

Here Comes Hercules is available now priced rrp £4.99 from all good bookshops instore and online, including Amazon rrp £4.99.

Here Comes Hercules (208 pages) and Hera's Terrible Trap (204 pages) are both published by the independent publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing, written by Stella Tarakson and illustrated by Nick Roberts. Available from February 2018.

A planned third book in the series, Arachne's Golden Gloves, will be out shortly afterwards....

We were sent our books for review.

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