Review: Check Mates

Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s
Publication: 27th June

This is the heart-warming story of Felix, a young boy with ADHD who can’t sit still, and his wonderfully eccentric Grandad.

When Felix is continually getting into trouble at school, and feeling a failure, his Grandad introduces him, in a very novel way, to his own passion: chess. His Grandad believes that the self- discipline needed to play chess will help Felix become better able to focus, concentrate and pay attention in lessons. But, is this enough if he doesn’t have belief and confidence in himself?

Despite his initial reluctance to play, he soon discovers an intrinsic talent for the game while also learning some of his Grandad’s secrets, carried with him from East Germany. Felix’s relationship with his Grandad is very special and resonates with humour, love, trust, frustration, betrayal, forgiveness. Ultimately, they are there for each other at a time when they are both finding adjusting to new lives difficult.

Felix has a well-meaning friend, Jake, who provides lots of humorous moments as they try to settle into life in secondary school. His other friend, Rebecca, encourages Felix to join the school chess club where he soon finds himself playing competitively, representing his school at tournaments. Will his chance of success be ruined by a rival chess player, his own lack of confidence or his Grandad’s failing health?

Check Mates is a story about the power of self-belief, perseverance and honesty and the importance of family, friends and forgiveness. I found this a truly inspirational story, coupled with an incredible historical twist!

A perfect read for children of 9+.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance copy of this book.

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