Diary Of A Brilliant Kid: Top Secret Guide To Awesomness by Andy Cope, Gavin Oattes and Will Hussey

The Blurb On The Back:

This is a diary with a difference.  More of a do-ary.  Scribble in it, dribble on it, nibble it when you’re peckish.  Read, enjoy, learn, laugh but most of all DO.  Because your future’s so bright you’re gonna need shades!

This book is an instruction manual for life.  It tells you how to be epic so grab a hot choc, make your bum comfy and read on.  It’s even got pictures!

It’s time to shine …

From the multi-layered cupcake consisting of Andy Cope (Doctor of Happiness), Gavin Oattes (stand-up comedian), Will Hussey (an actual real teacher) and Amy Bradley (best illustrator evs) – this is your recipe book for having your cake and scoffing it.  Diary Of A Brilliant Kid works up your appetite to enjoy and savour every last dollop of whatever life serves you.  As well as putting-the-cherry-on top, it inspires you to:

– Think big, sparkly brightly and by your absolute best

– Be a mover, shaker and relationship maker 

– Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons

– Feel the fear and do it anyway

– Embrace the magnificent seven works that will change your life (yes, really!)

#Fact: The average person lives for 4000 weeks.  Life’s short.  It’s a gift.  Let’s not send it back unwrapped.

You can buy DIARY OF A BRILLIANT KID: TOP SECRET GUIDE TO AWESOMENESS by Andy Cope, Gavin Oattes and Will Hussey from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Andy Cope has a PhD in positive psychology and writes the bestselling SPY DOGs series.  Gavin Oattes is a former school teacher turned comedian and author.  Will Hussey is a teacher and author.  This self-help book for children aged 9+ (with lively illustrations by Amy Bradley) unevenly mixes humour and practical tips to encourage a more positive mindset and set and achieve goals such that despite good intentions the key messages get lost.

Given the stresses put on children these days – especially as we (hopefully) emerge from the pandemic – I completely see the use and benefit of self-help guides for children and, having used them myself as an adult, I think they can offer a lot to help children understand their behaviours and make changes.  This book markets itself as a diary but there’s no real diary element to it – it’s more a series of activities with the authors’ advice and stories around it.  That’s not a bad thing, but I think the marketing doesn’t do it any favours because it leads your expectations one way and doesn’t deliver.

The book’s intention is to help children get the most out of life, including by setting goals, changing their mindsets by acknowledging negative feelings but learning to move past them and focus more on the positives and working hard and doing their best.  These are all perfectly good, laudable things to teach children and I recognised a lot of the messages from the adult self-help books that I’ve read but with more age appropriate language to convey the message to the child readers.  The problem is that there’s also a lot of author experience and general discussion within the book and while some of this is very funny (a story that Oattes shares of reading a book to a class of 4-year-olds when he was a trainee teacher genuinely made me laugh out loud), some of it (notably a re-imagining of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears) are a bit forced and feel shoe-horned in.  As a result, instead of reinforcing the main messages, for me they overshadowed and detracted from them at times.  Similarly, there are a number of quotes peppered through the text, which are fine but didn’t quite gel with the central messages while some of the stories over laboured the authors’ points.  On the other hand, Amy Bradley’s illustrations work very well – they’re cartoony in style and very lively and I can see children really enjoying them.

There are a number of activities for children to do in the book, which all help the reader to focus on what they want and how to change their thinking.  I would have actually liked more of these than there are because of the way they force engagement with the text but there are a fair number for readers to get something from them.

All in all, I didn’t think this was a bad book – in fact there’s a lot here that the target age group could take from it – but I do think the mix between the humour and the self-help aspects don’t gel together as well as the authors intended and, as such, there’s a risk that some of their tips get missed or overlooked.  

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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