The truth about my unbelievable summer, well, there isn’t too much unbelievable I’m afraid. If I suffer from this affliction can you imagine how your students feel when they sit down to write the dreaded ‘What did you do this summer?’ piece that every kid knows they will be asked to write.

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Unbelievable summer 4

Instead, I suggest pulling out a book that is a bit different. The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer by Davide Cali and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud.  This book is the latest by this duo but my first introduction to them.  Let’s see how they answer the question of “What did you do this summer?” and use this book as a spring board for writing inspiration this September with your students.

The story starts out as many do,

Teacher asks, “So, what did you do this summer?”

Student replies with, “Well, you may not believe this, but…”  “I found a message in a bottle.  It wasn’t just any message- it was a treasure map!”

Unbelievable Summer 1

What captured my attention was the unique nature of the student in his full suit and tie and hair that looks like it is constantly windblown.

On the next page we have the first instance of suspense or rising action as a magpie plucks the map from the boy’s hand and flies away. The boy and his dog set off on an adventure to retrieve the map.

Every page takes the reader further into an unbelievable adventure.  The boy travels far and wide and even into space on this adventure trying to find the map.  He finally gets the map back only to have the magpie take it again.  The boy continues to chase the magpie everywhere from the Tag Mahal to the Great Wall of China until he finally captures the bird on the tip top of a mountain. Unbelievable!

Once in possession of the map he takes his uncle’s jet pack and finds the ‘X’ that marks the spot which is of course on the same beach where the adventure began.  What does he dig up?  What was the treasure?  Does his teacher believe him?  Well, that is all part of the unbelievable summer adventure.  As a teacher, I love the twist at the end.  Totally unexpected.

I enjoyed this book from its clever twists and interesting illustrations.  Maybe I’m just not that familiar with French illustrators which is why introducing different authors and illustrators to kids is a fabulous idea.


Shake up the writing assignment this year by dividing your class into 2 groups.  1 group of illustrators and 1 group  of writers.  Have them work together to create an unbelievable summer adventure.  Discuss how the illustrator adds interest to the author’s words.  Imagine reading this story with no illustrations. Some pages would not make sense.

For example

“And I ended up in the desert.”

It is a simple statement but through the illustration we are given deeper insight into the adventure.

“It turns out that my arrival disturbed some deep sleepers.”

Both the words and the illustration help move the story forward.

Unbelievable Summer 2

You can have your students begin with same premise as in this book where they find a treasure map or just let your kids be wild and free in their imaginations to truly tell you about their unbelievable summer adventure.

Unbelievable summer 3

If you love this book there are 2 more in this series by the author and illustrator.

*Disclosure* – I was given a copy of this book from Raincoast Books to facilitate a review.  I only post reviews of books I enjoyed, my kids enjoyed or I feel will be of value to my readers.  You can read my full disclosure policy here.  I am also an Amazon Associate and participate in their advertising program and I can earn commissions on purchases through my affiliated links.  The price is the same to you but I would receive a small commission that I use to keep this blog a float.


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Bonnie Dani

Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom

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