Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

Published by Anderson Press (ISBN: 978-1849396363)

Hercufleas is born into a rather unusual family of fleas. His ‘fleamily’ are, in fact, the rarest and biggest fleas of all!  They are absolutely enormous... Well, enormous for fleas; to us, they would look about the size of a raisin.  Hercufleas lives in a top hat and, although he has everything a hatchling could ever want (a loving fleamily, a boingy boing room and a cellar filled with row upon row of tiny bottles filled with the rarest and most exquisite blood), he is restless.  He knows why he hatched.  He knows his purpose, his destiny.  He wants an adventure.

And so it is, that at just a few hours old, Hercufleas finds himself embroiled in the adventure of a lifetime.  He (accidently) sets off on a quest alongside Greta, a young girl on a mission to save her home from the giant Yuk.  She needs a hero to defeat this monstrous beast; many have tried but all have failed.  This is her last chance!  

Unbefleavable fun!  This is a tale of bravery, the power of hope, the impact of loss and the danger of revenge.  Sam Gayton’s writing is wonderfully imaginative. He challenges the readers’ instinctive desire to see the downfall of a villain, making them consider what really makes a hero and what makes a villain.  Is it possible to be both? Are they born or created? Maybe evil and good are in the eye of the beholder and not everyone will see things in the same light.

Hercufleas opens the door for countless writing opportunities: most notably, narrative. Children could have tremendous fun creating their own unlikely or surprising heroes and villains who may be misunderstood.  They could write their own stories following the traditional ‘defeating a monster’ format, but rather than defeating their monster by killing it, they could defeat the monster by saving it.  A further challenge would be to take a well-known story and rewriting it, twisting the facts within the plot so that the villain becomes the good guy. 

This is a must read for Junior aged children and would make a perfect class reader.  It is a fun and exciting book that is sure to entertain.  The humour is created by the pure imaginative craziness of the characters and the situations they find themselves in. But, although this book is sure to have you laughing out loud, it does not shy away from serious issues and carries a poignant message throughout.  I will be putting this book in the hands of those children stuck in a reading rut, reading the same ‘funny’ books over and over again.