• Roar! Bull! Roar!
  • Anke Weckmann
  • Frances Lincoln
  • 8/1/2006
  • 184507520X
  • $4.99

Roar! Bull! Roar!

This exciting novel by Andrew and Polly {their first prose fiction} for 7-12 was shortlisted for the Stockport Schools Book Award and received rave reviews. Illustrated by Anke Weckman, the book sits on their new Frances Lincoln fiction list alongside writers such as John Agard and Beverly Naidoo. Roar, Bull, Roar! is the first in a three book series featuring young detectives Jan and Marie. The second, Falcon's Fury, where Jan and Marie take on Peregrine egg thieves, is now out.

A year abroad for Czech brother and sister Jan and Marie means arriving in rural England in the middle of the night - and not everyone is welcoming. As they try and settle into their new school, they are plunged into a series of mysteries. Who is the battered old lady in the tattered clothes? Why is their new landlord such a nasty piece of work? What is the real story of the ghostly Roaring Bull - and what lies hidden in the local church?

Old legends are revived as Jan and Mari unearth shady secrets in a desperate bid to save their family from eviction. In their quest, they find unlikely allies and deadly enemies - enemies who will stop at nothing to keep the past buried.

"A fast moving adventure story enhanced by delightful folk-style illustrations. Teachers will welcome the distinctive tone and original perspective that this book offers... children of 8 and up will relish the humour, drama and pace of the tale as it speeds up to its dramatic climax, involving lost children, wicked deeds, car chases and a splendidly eccentric bullfight in the deep winter snow."
School Librarian

"These talented authors have branched out into fiction to create a thriller/mystery based around the central theme of how a family from another country tries to settle in England. This could be used as a good basis to discuss how different cultures can learn from each other."
The Bookseller

“history is full of tales, and sometimes it takes bravery and pluck to uncover them.”
"Bravery and pluck are the lifeblood that abound and flow so thoroughly through Czech siblings Jan and Marie Klechek who, following their father Frantisek, a maths teacher who has got a new job in England, move to a small village. Their arrival in the middle of the night is met by a welcome that is quite literally divested of any warmth and hospitality, a bull charges down the side of the car and the cottage in which they are staying – the curiously named “Shoe Cottage” – is cold, damp and in a state of near dereliction. Bob Thomson, the family's new landlord is a seemingly uncaring and miserly individual who has a great nephew, Ross, and a great niece, Kerry, who both become the bane of the Klesek children’s life, taunting, teasing and being malicious to them both. On one such occasion the children take flight and come across a barn where they take shelter from a sudden storm. Lady Beddoes lives in the barn and the two children quickly befriend her. Marie encounters prejudice and xenophobia in the guise of her new friend, Ashleigh’s mother, Carol Jillson who has a decidedly narrow outlook and small-town mentality when it comes to accepting newcomers, let alone ‘foreigners’. What Jan and Marie find hidden in a shoe in the chimney of their cottage and that landlord, Bob Thompson, is desperate to gain possession of and thereby conceal, leads to a revelation and through a series of plot twists and turns lead to Lady Beddoe ascending to her rightful position within the village thereby setting about making things right once more! This is a real romp of a read, Jan and Marie make for particularly endearing protagonists whom it is difficult not to feel a joint affinity and affection towards…"

"When the Kleček family move to Shropshire from their home in the Czech Republic, they are not sure what to expect of England. A mysterious bull, their evil landlord and the school bullies are just some of the things that siblings Jan and Marie have to face. Not all is bad, though, and they make good friends, both at school and in 'Crazy' Beddoes, a local rag lady.
The authors captures beautifully the bewilderment felt by Jan and Marie at their strange, new surroundings, showing a true understanding of what it must be like to adapt to using a new language all the time. The text is littered with Czech vocabulary (there is a handy pronunciation guide at the back!) that really helps the reader get into the mindset of the characters. The narrative is fast-paced and the plot is gripping but believable. Overall an enjoyable and exciting read!"

"Pacy adventure which offers some insights into another country’s customs."

"Jan and Marie have arrived in England with their parents as their father takes up a teaching post in rural Shropshire. The children face the prejudice of locals who call them asylum seekers and bullying from children at school, who see them as easy targets. Despite this they do begin to make friends, the most unlikely being a bag lady known as Lady Beddoes. Their friendship with lady B brings them in to conflict with their landlord Bob Thomson, a cousin of the lady and the owner of Beddoes hall, her ancestral home.

The book weaves the several elements of the story into a satisfying whole. It is an adventure story but also makes some thought provoking comments about bullying and the way we relate to migrants, both economic and political. The are some insights into Czech culture and the strength the family gains from their cultural values.

A good book for looking at citizenship issues as well as understanding other countries. It is the first of a series charting the adventures of Jan and Marie as they settle into their new home."