Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

Published by Corgi Childrens (ISBN : 978-0552561693)

Moving away from everything you know is never easy, but as if moving to the boring town of Beeton is not enough, Stuart Horten finds his new neighbours to be annoying triplet girls who won’t let him forget that he is small for his age and his name- S.Horten (shorten) – is funny. However, Stuart soon finds an ally in this unlikely trio and he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to finds his long lost great uncle’s secret workshop.

A great read aloud is one that keeps the audience desperate for more. Small Change for Stuart is a book that does that. The novel starts by setting the scene and introducing Stuart and his somewhat distracted parents and explaining how he has come to live in Beeton.  Children empathise with his plight- everyone knows you don’t move at the beginning of the summer holidays when you don’t know anyone!- and share his frustration with his very intelligent, but not very practical- and tall- father! 

As Stuart gradually discovers clue after clue and solves puzzle after puzzle, children work with him, making connections and suggestions. They enjoy the humour of the story, but also respond well to the moments when Stuart is forced to reflect on his own actions and make difficult decisions. They also enjoy learning new words from Stuart’s father- ‘perambulation’, ‘sylvan’ and ‘conflagration’ became commonly used!

The chapters are of a manageable size, making it possible to complete one a day and keep the story moving at a pleasing pace. The sequel, Big Change for Stuart’, was just as enjoyable and allowed the children to read more about Stuart and his friends.