Henry Benett and the Hidden Book of Magic (Part 1)

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To sum up Henry Benett and the Hidden Book of Magic (Part 1) I would say, ‘non-stop action.’

Henry Benett and his neighbour Francesca Lucinda Burlington-Smith are on a quest to find the Hidden Book of Magic.

Within the first few minutes of reading, Henry had been startled by a huge sliver cross in the sky and seen a shadowy figure digging a hole in his front yard.  I was drawn immediately in to the adventure as children would be when reading this book.

Not only is the book quick to introduce action, it is fast paced, with constant new obstacles Francesca Lucinda and Henry have to overcome. Henry Benett and the Hidden Book of Magic would be perfect to be read aloud in a classroom or as a night-time read with your child. The scenes are not too scary with any danger quickly resolved.

Although the action evolves at a fast pace, there is enough detail given for the reader to understand and become involved in each situation trying to predict how Henry and Fracesca Lucinda will resolve their predicament before reading the resolution.

This book would be a great story-starter for children’s own action writing. It shows children when writing action you are the director of the story. The only thing stopping you is your imagination, whatever you can dream up you can write about, whether it is a travelling stone or a half dragon half dinosaur creature.

The word choice in Henry Benett and the  Hidden Book of Magic is ideal for a high-interest, low-ability book. Children  that like adventure books however are reluctant readers.

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Henry Benett and the Hidden Book of Magic is a great base for a range of Educational Activities. Children/students can

  • Family Tree –  Francesca Lucinda Burlington-Smith’s great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather is Merlin. Children can create their own family tree to see how many generations they can go back.
  • New Conversations- Francesca Lucinda and Henry lived next door to each other yet they hadn’t spoken before. Team students up in the classroom/school who they don’t usually talk to and ask them to have a conversation, to try to find a topic they have in common.
  • Fact or Fiction – When Francesca Lucinda first told Henry the story of The Book of Magic, Henry didn’t believe her. Students take turns in class to tell a story which could be real or made up. Classmates try to tell whether the story is fact or fiction.
  • Travel Stone – Find stones for students to paint and make their own Travel Stone. On a world map ask students to choose destinations they would travel with their travel stone  and why.
  • Famous Historical Figures – Merlin is Francesca Lucinda’s relative. Ask students if they could have any historical famous person in their family tree, who would they have.
  • Map Drawing – Students draw their own map of the school, playground or classroom. Use an X to show where they have hidden an object. Give the map to a classmate to try to find the hidden object.
  • Dinodrag – In the book, a dinodrag was a combination of dinosaur and dragon. It had characteristics such as bad eyesight, no sense of smell, shoots fire balls, can only see straight ahead and scared of water. Students create their own creature using two animals and list their characteristics.
  • Physical Education/Sport Game – Using beanbags one child can be the dinodrag who can only throw the beanbags straight ahead, the other players must only move in zig zag motions without being hit by the fire ball (beanbag).
  • Pyjama Design – Henry and Francesca Lucinda wore their pyjamas to Dragoss Island. Ask students to design a pair of pyjamas they would want to wear on their adventures.
  • Nightmares – find out facts compared to the fiction in the book

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The illustrator was the author’s talented daughter, Molly. Here she is signing the book and handing it to my children. I congratulate the author on her decision to include her daughter’s drawings. Not only are they worthy of the inclusion, but also it shows children what they can achieve. I look forward to following Molly’s future in illustrating.

Well done also to Collins Bookstore in Bairnsdale on providing opportunities for authors to interact with their audience. A great Saturday morning which my children enjoyed and I enjoyed. My boys created their own dinodrag while I had a chance to chat with both the author and illustrator (and wander around the book store on my own…bliss)

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Now, my personal message to Katie Howard………get writing, I want to know what happens next.

To keep updated or buy your own copy of Henry Benett  and the Hidden Book of Magic head to Katie Howard’s website.


If you are travelling through or live near Bairnsdale, keep updated with their children’s activities and author visits by heading to their Facebook page Collins Bookseller and ABC Centre Bairnsdale.

To find out more about me and receive daily activities and information to help your child’s reading and writing develop, head to my Facebook page abcJenny.