It can be hard to get children reading, but it does help if the stories can appeal to their interests and this is what Sophie Deen has achieved with Agent Asha.
The book features Asha a coding genius from a British Indian family who is recruited to join the top secret Children’s Spy Agency. With the help of her little drone, she hacks into the world’s biggest tech company (run by a teenager) in order to save the world. The book has story which is engaging on its own, however there is the added bonus of lots of top tips and tasks scattered through the book. My 8 year old really enjoyed these points in the story where he could stop, think and engage a different sort of brain to look through a decision table diagram to see the outcomes or learn more facts about the internet.
I try to read books before I pass them onto the children because this enables me to discuss the stories with them which is so important for building their comprehension skills. Agent Asha is a very fast paced children’s book, a lot happens very quickly and it seems to have everything- sharks, a cute hamster, a drone, the internet, spies. I loved that Asha is a British Indian Girl who is so empowered, she is a really delightful role model. The story is well written with humour and even features Sophie herself. I’m not sure that children would notice these touches, but I appreciated them. Reluctant readers are more engaged when there are plenty of illustrations and the images here really bring the story to life in a way that is suitable for the target age group.
Agent Asha has some awesome spy gadgets to help her on her missions, including :
- The WHAT-A BOTTLE: It turns even the muddiest puddle water into clean drinking water and is also a state-of-the-art multi-tool that includes: a Screwdriver, Laser torch, Emergency dog whistle, and a diamond cutter
- The MEGA FART SELFIE STICK: It can be used to look round corners, but if somebody other than Asha tries to use this, it lets out a huge fart that nobody can stand to be in the room with!
This encouraged us to think about what what spy gadgets we could come up with. By far our best invention was the SUPER MULTIPURPOSE BRACELET, what do you think?
The book comes with an associated app- CSA World which has a real flavour of the book, the games require children to think about programming which is fast becoming an essential life skill. I think the fact that they tied in with the book encouraged my son to read the book. Playing the games he exclaimed: ‘this is fun!’ and ‘thats good music!’. He especially enjoyed hacking the games which appeals to his interests and natural flair for IT.
This is a great book for kids usually more interested in screens than books such as my son who was bouncing with enthusiasm with the idea that there is an app which links into a book. You can use the app as a bribe to get them to read, but the fact that the app features the book is a brilliant incentive anyway. We really enjoyed it and we’re looking forward to more Agent Asha adventures.
You can get hold of a copy from 2nd July 2020 from all the usual retailers priced £6.99 its aimed at 7+ age group. ISBN 9781406382723. You can find out more here and enjoy the blog tour.