Pirates, airships and steampunk fantasy: the class book review

Our reviewers were swept up and whisked away by this story of what happens when a school trip turns into something quite different

Emily Marcuccilli

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Title: The Boy Who Went Magic
Author: AP Winter
Publisher: Chicken House

Teacher review

Bert has been growing up in Oneiro’s School, with only hazy memories of his early childhood, before his mother died and his father disappeared. Bert had dreamed of becoming an adventurer, but he seems condemned to living a rather bleak and lonely existence with loyal Norton as his only friend.

However, life takes a dramatic turn following a mysterious event at the local museum. With one escapade after another, Bert finds himself being whisked away and heading towards the magical land of Ferenor, in the company of fearless Finch and her father.

Both characters are immensely likeable, and I wonder how many other readers have secretly wished, as I did, that they too could be swept away by this intrepid pair on a magical adventure in the skies.

the boy who went magic, ap winter, chicken house, book review

The story is fast-paced and thrilling, with wonderful twists and turns along the way. There are swashbuckling pirates, fantastical airships that do battle in the clouds, as well as mysterious, magical events to grab the imagination.

The author deftly combines elements of steampunk fantasy with adventure, magic and themes of friendship and loyalty. It is a real treat for fantasy fans, and my team of eager reviewers have certainly enjoyed it. In fact, JJ loved it so much that he read it twice!

Emily Marcuccilli is librarian at King’s Hall School, in Taunton, Somerset. She tweets as @KH_Library.


Pupil reviews

‘My legs turned to jelly because I was so terrified’

If you like pirates, magic and spirits, this book is for you. The Boy Who Went Magic is a fantasy book geared for children aged nine to 12.

There are lots of characters, but the main two characters are Bert and Finch. These two strong male and female characters will appeal to both boys and girls. I like Bert; he is brave and loyal and won’t give up on his friends. I found Finch interesting because she has metal legs that allow her to jump three times her height.

Young Bert is on a normal, boring school trip but something very peculiar happens, whisking him into an amazing world full of marvellous magic, belligerent battles, plucky pirates and more. Soon Bert is whirled in a quest to find Lugalbanda, the castle on a cloud. But there’s a twist in the tale…

My favourite part was at the museum, because it is where Bert gets his powers and sees his enemy for the second time. At one point Bert was attacked and my legs turned to jelly because I was so terrified! I absolutely loved this book and wouldn’t do anything to change it.

A good lesson learned: Bert finds out not to judge a book by its cover when it comes to the people around him.

I would recommend this book to a Harry Potter fan because, like Harry Potter, magical and non-magical people are mixed together in this awesome adventure. In my opinion, this is a brilliant book that made me laugh and cry.


JJ, Year 4

‘Enthrals readers with a magical fairy tale’

The Boy Who Went Magic is a fabulous story packed with thrilling adventure, magic and an evil scheme at work.
‘Enthrals readers with a magical fairy tale’

When young Bert thinks his life could not get any more BORING, a whole new world, a million miles from his imagination, puts him in danger. With his new friends and an evil prince coming to steal Bert’s power, Bert MUST find what the incredible magic is, and how can he protect it.

Winter made his readers hang on to the story’s every word. This book made me want to read more, with parts that are mystifying, sad and happy. Winter enthrals readers into a magical fairy tale, and one that they won’t forget.

I think this book would be good for readers between eight years and 13 years. People who liked The Boy Who Went Magic should try some other novels, like:

The Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol
Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley
The Cry of the Ice Mark, by Stuart Hill

Daisy, Year 6

‘A realistic fantasy book’

This book is absolutely amazing!

I love how it is so detailed when the author describes the scenery. It feels like you are there.

The characters are all very different and all have different views of all of the amazing adventures that they have.

It is a realistic fantasy book, so you can imagine what it would be like. I loved this book because it is action-packed, a huge mystery and an amazing story.

Georgie, Year 6


If you or your class would like to write a review for Tes, please contact Adi Bloom on adi.bloom@tesglobal.com

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Emily Marcuccilli

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