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Sara Mai ac Antur y Fferm (3) - Casia Wiliam

Updated: May 17

(awgrym) oed diddordeb: 7-11

(awgrym) oed darllen: 7+ *gyda chymorth

Lluniau: Gwen Millward


It's not often that a series  makes such an impression as Sw Sara Mai. The first book came out at a time when it was felt that there was a gap in terms of books for 7-11 year olds (tbh we could still do with more!) I remember being on the Tir na n-Og judging panel at the time, and everyone agreed how good the first one was. Many schools now use the series as their class novel, as it’s very suitable for years 3-4, (and years 5 -6) with lots of cross-curricular work that stems from it.  At it’s heart though, this is a book to be enjoyed, not studied.


In the world of movies, sequels can end up being a bit of a flop compared to the originals, but in Sara Mai's case, the standard increases with each publication. When the second instalment (Lleidr y Neidr) was launched, it became one of my favourite books of that year, throwing a detective novel element into the pot. With Sara back for her third adventure, which turns the series into a trilogy, we get a different setting from the zoo - an adventure into the countryside - something that will be familiar to many Welsh children. And for those more urban readers, what a great opportunity to learn more about farm life.


After hearing that some of the older children are allowed to go to Disneyland Paris for their end of term trip, some of the younger children are disappointed to hear that year 5 is going to a local farm, Tyddyn Gwyn, instead. As an animal lover of all kinds, Sara Mai is really looking forward to learn different animals to the zoo’s usual exotic kind. She may be familiar with every nook and cranny of the zoo, but she’s never been on a farm before. As we know, Sara much prefers animals to people, and a farm should have plenty of those - sounds like a perfect trip!


One of the reasons the series has been so popular is because the author, Casia Wiliam, has ‘tuned in’ to the world of children this age. As a parent, and through her work as the Welsh Children's Poet, I’m sure she’s chatted to enough children across the country to get a pretty good idea of what's appeals these days. It all reads so naturally, (mostly Northern dialect) and it never sounds like an adult trying to be 'cool' when writing for kids (as can sometimes happen). She talks about life issues that matter to children so they can relate to the situations and experiences. As an older reader, I was also transported back to my time at school, taking similar trips to Glan Llyn, staying up all night feasting on Haribos and telling ghost stories about the black nun!


Residential trips, which are like a rite of passage for kids, are on one hand full of fun, freedom, excitement, bunk beds and midnight feasts, but on the other hand, there's a longing for home, nervousness at meeting new people, and that sinking feeling of being put in groups with people you don’t know! These things might be 'nothing' to adults, but these  are serious things  when you're a kid. Find out how Sara Mai copes with staying overnight without mum and dad for the first time…


I like the character of Sara Mai for many reasons. She's very different from the usual, with a rather mature head on her shoulders. She'd much rather be clearing the elephants pen (yup, even the poo) than spending hours in front of a screen. As she wants  to be a zoo keeper in the future, she's full of facts of all kinds about countless creatures. Oh yeah, and she loves reading too which is always a good thing!


But another reason I like the character, is because she's so believable and genuine. She's by no means perfect herself (who is eh?). Sometimes she can be a bit dismissive of things that aren’t animal-related, and as we find out, she doesn't always listen to advice herself (you’ll know what I mean when you get to the bit with the tree!) It's interesting to see her grow as a person over the course of the novels, and she learns a few lessons of her own, like figuring out who your real friends are.


The novel has a bit of everything, fun characters, humour, and parts that will bring a tear to your eyes, oh, and of course... plenty of animals! I'm already looking forward to the next adventure , as Sara Mai moves up to year 6!



Gwasg: Y Lolfa

Cyhoeddwyd: 2023 Cyfres: Sw Sara Mai

Pris: £5.99



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