Having read previous Stewart Foster titles – The Bubble Boy and All The Things That Could Wrong, I was absolutely delighted to hear of Checkmates coming up for publication. Stewart Foster has an undeniable talent for writing about issues and circumstances relevant to todays children in a realistic and detailed style which the intended audience will find easy to connect to, and immerse themselves within the world he creates and the characters that dwell there.

Felix is the main character that Checkmates develops around, a young boy that struggles through his day due to his inability to focus on the task at hand. His behaviour negatively impacts his learning at school and at home he seems to prefer to hang out with his friend then stay home or complete homework. Felix has ADHD which explains his lack of focus and dindling grades to an extent, although it doesn’t deter his parents and teachers from continually pointing out to Felix that he must try harder, only adding to his stress levels and causing him to be even more distracted and unhappy.

Thankfully there is respite from it all in the form of his Grandad and whilst Felix is initially reluctant to visit him, uncertain of how to behave and unsure of his Grandads intentions, it is a true privilege as the reader to witness the journey that the pair take whilst bonding and feel the love and adoration the pair have for one another which grows from strength to strength with each visit.

It is through the patience, trust and appreciation that Felix is shown by his Grandad that he gets an understanding of those behavioural traits. When he is also taught how to focus on the task at hand and not let himself become distracted Felix realises that his school work is improving too and this change in him for the better comes from spending time mastering the art of Chess.

This is a thoroughly immersive story that readers will have no difficulty enjoying, with references to top current console game titles, friendships and disputes within school and a reluctance to try anything new whether it be spending time with an elderly relative or playing a board game with them, there is so much that will resonate with young readers as they read Checkmates.

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