At Hay last year, my last event was watching the wonderful Gary Northfield talk about his new creation, Julius Zebra. I went looking for a good recommendation for children who want a story to get their teeth into and really enjoy illustrations; I left wanting to read the book as soon as possible- which I did!
The first book-Rumble with the Romans- introduces us to Julius and his family living in Africa and explains how he ended up in Rome, fighting as a gladiator. The story is seriously silly, full of fun and brilliantly put together, offering a satisfying, but mad-cap read!
Julius is a very endearing, if annoying at times, character who HATES being called a horse. He also hates being called Debra or Barbara, but you can find out why for yourself!
In his second adventure, Bundle with the Britons, Julius and his odd assortment of friends continue their adventure. They have to fulfil Emperor Hadrian's final request so he will grant the gladiator animals their freedom.
But the trip will not be the 'holibobs' Julius is hoping for! They must go to Briton, a strange and distant land, to entertain the locals, who are not that keen on the Romans!
As well as being hugely entertaining, a section on Roman numerals and 'Gary's Glossary' explain some of the historical details involved. The illustrations are fantastic- quirky and full of humour.
I am really looking forward to the next book in the series- and so are the children in my class!