Narrator: Lola-Rose Maxwell
Series: Billy Growing Up #1
Published by Self Published / Indie on 13 April 2016
Length: 1 hr and 9 mins
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Author, Submitted
Billy Has a Birthday is the first volume in the Billy Growing Up series. The story follows Billy, a young boy who turns 10 on the tenth October - 10, 10, 10 - a once in a lifetime occasion. Billy's excitement at his 'big' birthday perfectly captures that of a child who is bordering on adolescence - each birthday seems so much more important than the last, and the move from single to double figures is one of the greatest of all.
On Billy's birthday, he is over the moon to be given a £20 note by his granddad. No more silly children's toys, he can finally buy what he wants. At the age of 10 this seems like a huge amount of money - more than Billy has ever owned. Things take an unpleasant turn when the local bully hears about Billy's birthday present, and forces him to give it up - or else. Billy, like many other children his age, agrees to the bully's demands.
Billy is devastated to have lost his special birthday present, but he attempts to keep the situation a secret from his mum and granddad. He has nothing to be ashamed of, but has convinced himself that the adults in his life will be cross if they find out what has happened. Like many bullied children he feels he cannot turn to anyone for help. Fortunately, luck is on Billy's side, and his best friend's little sister finds out about the bully and tells Billy's granddad. Together they are able to hatch a plan to get the note back and to ensure the bully gets what's coming to him!
Billy Has a Birthday is a wonderful example of a story that young children can enjoy listening to together with their parents. Using traditional storytelling, it is entertaining while dealing with a serious issue that affect many children as they grow up. Bullying can be a difficult subject for children to talk about, and many feel frightened or embarrassed if they fall victim to bullying. This book acts as the perfect icebreaker for adults and children to begin discussing these issues.
The message in the book is clear - you can't rid the world of bullies but you can do something about how you deal with them.
©2014 James Minter (P)2016 James Minter
ABR received this audiobook for free from the Author, Submitted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the audiobook or the content of our review.Buy from Audible Buy from Amazon.comAdd to Goodreads
A boy on his 10th birthday surrounded by family, friends, his dog Jacko, and presents! What could be better? Nothing! So it’s a total bummer when the neighborhood bully, Eddie, takes Billy’s special gift of $20 that he just received from his grandad. This story is really about bullying and not so much about birthday parties or turning 10 years old.
The story starts off light and fun with the birthday party and his grandad playing the part of a magician named The Great Magisco! Max, the sister of Billy’s best friend Ant, plays Magisco’s assistant. All the kids enjoy the magic show and afterward, Billy and Ant go for a bike ride. That’s when Eddie and his buddies make an appearance. Eddie uses the pretext of not having been invited to bully the money out of Billy.
I really like that things get a little complicated here as that’s how real life often is. Billy is embarrassed and not sure if his mom and grandad will be angry with him. Luckily someone else knows about this and comes up with a plan to trick Eddie out of his ill-gotten gains. There was none of this ‘Stand tall and stand up to that bully!’ stuff that always sounds so good in fiction but can well end up with blood and broken bones in real life.
The ending had a nice chat between Billy and his grandad and mom where the importance of involving those who can help is brought up. Billy goes on to have a great birthday while Eddie and his parents have a chat with authorities. After the tale is over, there’s a little bit about why the author chose to shape the story the way he did. I think this is a good conversation starter for parents who want to chat with their kids about bullying.
The Narration: Lola-Rose Maxwell is very pleasant to listen to. Since this story is told in the 3rd person, it worked just fine having a female narrator for a male-lead story. She kept kids and adults distinct but not all character voices had their own flair. For instance, I was expecting grandad to sound old but he didn’t particularly. I also expected Max to sound more like a little girl kid but she sounded like a tween or teen. Maxwell did a great job of being part of the story, imbuing each character with emotion. Her pacing was spot on. There were no technical issues with the recording.