Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? by Simon Packham

A fantastic list of 65 titles has been compiled by experts as a tool to help schools, libraries and parents to discover empathy-infused reading recommendations in the run up to Empathy Day, as EmpathyLab strives to grow an empathy-educated generation and reach one million children a year by 2026. You can download free guides to the collection at www.empathylab.uk/RF, but here is my choice for older readers in Key Stage 2

The Blurb

Archie Ebbs has the perfect life. Good friends, a nice home and classmates who laugh at (nearly) all his jokes. But all that is about to change. As his family faces upheaval, Archie realises he will have to leave behind so much that he knows and loves, even his cat, Dinger. And soon Archie has other worries … is he really starting to become invisible?

The Review

Humour and heart are packed into this tale of the hidden homeless in our society.

When the owner of the Ebb family’s rented house puts it up for sale, life as they know it changes beyond recognition. With no internet, Archie can’t stay in touch with his friends outside of school as part of Top Table Productions, with no space, he can’t have friends over, and with no pets allowed, Dinger has to go and live with the mad cat lady across the road from his old house.

Archie follows older sister, Izzy’s lead and says nothing to his friends about why he can no longer join them for sleepovers at weekends or attend afterschool clubs. As he isolates himself, he finds himself becoming invisible to the point he may as well have never existed at all. Humour has always been his armour in life, but he finds no solace in that as he falls out with Izzy and Mum retreats inside herself as Manton House and it’s graffitied warning of “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” infects them all.

Izzy is determined that no one in her school will find out and sets out to ensure her boyfriend, Clint, doesn’t see how they are living. Her embarrassment leads to Snapchat lies and and a fake new boyfriend which seems doable until the reality that they may be spending longer than 6 weeks in their temporary accommodation. Her pain is clear to see as she becomes just as isolated as Archie.

I really enjoyed watching his friendship with Zofia develop as they navigate the bleak world of the poverty trap their families are in, and her unwavering ability to make the most of the situation they are in and look for the best in people. Her belief in Callum is heart-warming when all around him are determined to believe the worst.

With messages around opening up to people when life throws difficulties in our path, ensuring new pupils with little or no English are welcomed and included Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? is a fantastic read for empathy. We could all take time to notice those around us, especially when they start slipping into the background.

Great for fans of:

  • The Soup Movement by Ben Davis
  • The Day I Was Erased by Lisa Thompson
  • Just Jack by Kate Scott

Huge thanks to Empathy Lab for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops to see more amazing books to #ReadForEmpathy


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