A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to pick up Hi So Much. I’m not sure why as I hadn’t even read the first book (or any Laura Dockrill before!). It was just a feeling I had. I was in the mood to read a good, fun children’s book, preferably illustrated, and so Hi So Much fit this spontaneous brief that I suddenly felt the need to fill. And it was the perfect choice! I was instantly catapulted into the world of an 11-year-old.
Hi So Much begins with: “I can’t believe I have not even started this book and I’m already in trouble”, so you know it’s going to be great before you’ve even finished the first page. Even though this is the only Darcy Burdock book I’ve read, I can tell that the series hinges on the wonderful, realistic characters that Laura Dockrill has created – and they certainly hold their own throughout the story. Darcy Burdock, our bright protagonist, just leaps off the page. She’s enthusiastic, quick-witted and imaginative, and does a fantastic job representing what children often go through in their everyday lives. Smart, wise and charismatic, she has a voice that leads you through her story.
Darcy is just about to start ‘Big School’ and is absolutely terrified. It’s a perfectly normal experience that many people probably won’t remember, but it resonated with me because my first day at secondary school is extremely vivid. I remember getting there really early (although I can’t exactly remember why), spending a few hours walking around the playground, dreading my first class. I felt small and anxious and I just generally didn’t like change. I liked my school uniform (and my new pencil case!), but I felt odd wearing it. It’s been 14 years, but I remember it so well and I loved getting inside a 11-year-old’s mind again. I would have really appreciated this book – and a protagonist like Darcy – when I started school.
Darcy Burdock deals with the world around her (even though she also has a wonderfully supportive and loveable family) using creative writing, imagining all sorts of fantastical scenarios that Laura Dockrill inserts right into the main story. I loved Darcy’s blunt honesty (in a way that only child can get away with). She doesn’t have as many objections to saying ‘I know it’s bad, but I really hope I see lots of blood today’ while visiting someone in hospital or enjoying the fact that someone’s real name is actually Cyril Flakes – and teasing her little sister because she doesn’t get the joke straight away.
Hi So Much is about the tumultuous, wondrous, but often traumatic, life of a 9-12 year old. It shows us (and actual children, of course!) that even if you’re the youngest, smallest person in the room, your opinion still counts; that it’s difficult, but not impossible, to stay friends with someone even when you’re in different places; and that everyone spends Sunday dreading Monday, even though it’s never as bad as Sunday pretends it will be. Hi So Much is full of lovely prose, snappy internal dialogue and witty illustrations and I’m looking forward to reading Darcy Burdock and the third book, Sorry About Me, published in July. Laura Dockrill knows what she’s doing!
Published: 27th February 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers (UK)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!