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Tremendous Things

"An adorable insecure Canadian teenager becomes his best self, with a dash of Parisian panache"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

June 2021 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2023: 11 - 14

Susin Neilson has such talent for creating pitch-perfect characters and immersive story-worlds that ring with real-life authenticity. Much like her excellent My Messed Up Life, Tremendous Things packs in plenty of humour and heart as it tells a page-turning story underpinned by big emotional themes, in this case finding confidence through battling the effects of bullying.

At eleven, Wilbur (Wil) resolved to grow taller, cry less, have his writing published, make friends, fall in love, “learn to be my best self”, and learn to be “confident and brave”. Three years later, while he’s yet to become brave, Wil has grown, he’s still writing poetry and he’s made some friends, among them his best friend, 85-year-old Sal. Going to “Aquacise for Seniors is definitely one of the highlights of my week,” he happily admits.

With his two mums, Mum and Mup (collectively known as The Mumps) struggling to make ends meet, it’s a bit of a challenge for pay for his French exchange trip, but boy is it worth working extra hours at Foot Long Subs to help fund it. Wil’s exchange partner, Charlie, turns out to be a confident, clever girl who appreciates Wil for who he is, and so his gay friends pledge to give him a confidence-boosting makeover before he goes to Paris. But then, as Wil feels a flicker of self-love, the merde hits the fan (to paraphrase a chapter title) and he’s showered with a succession of unsettling events.

Reader, I balled, I beamed, and was bowled over by every step of Wilbur’s life-affirming journey, with the wonders of Charlotte’s Web woven through it.

Joanne Owen

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