In the middle-grade fantasy A Pocketful of Stars, protagonist Safiya finds herself transported from her mum’s hospital bedside and into a dream world, landing in her mum’s childhood home in Kuwait. But this dreamscape is more than just magical: it’s also a game. A game that she will need to learn how to play in order to unlock secrets of the past that could be the key to changing her future.
Author Aisha Bushby takes to the Egmont website to share her favourite popular video games, perfect for readers of her debut book.
1. Animal Crossing
In this game you dress your human character up to look like you, and act as the mayor of a town filled with anthropomorphic animals. The aim is to build on your land by buying and trading items. You can also talk with the other residents, go fishing and collect bugs. The game is played in ‘real-time’, so you have to wait for shops to open, and you can participate in special seasonal events.
What’s great about this game is that you are rewarded for spreading positivity, and are encouraged to help your townspeople by carrying out favours which result in gameplay rewards. It’s a game about making and keeping friends. And, bonus, kids can learn to discover and recognise species of fish and bugs in the real world, based on their virtual counterparts.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This game has some mild violence and some scary-looking creatures, so it’s best suited for 10+.
This is an action-adventure game that’s completely open world. The premise is that Link, who players will control, has woken from a hundred- year slumber and must save the Kingdom of Hyrule from Calamity Ganon.
In order to do this players must complete a series of puzzles and quests in order to earn rewards that will help them progress in the game. But before they can successfully complete these tasks they must forage for items and organise their inventory accordingly.
The game can be played non-linearly, and there isn’t much instruction, so it’s up to the player to strategise and plan ahead to make sure they don’t run out of essential items. It’s a great game for teaching creative thinking, problem-solving, and to teach kids how to anticipate needs. It also has a great story behind it, so would be a good game for reluctant readers.
This is a cooking simulation game in which players must cooperatively control a number of chefs in a kitchen filled with obstacles, in order to prepare a series of meals under a time constraint.
The players are provided with a series of ingredients, and are tasked with completing orders whilst also making sure their kitchen is kept clean. The layout of the kitchen changes as the levels progress, with more challenging obstacles put in place.
Simulation games are a great way to introduce new concepts to children, but this one in particular is good for teaching multi-tasking, responsibility, and working under pressure.
I think most people have heard of Minecraft, which just happens to be the best-selling video game of all time. The premise is rather simple: players can access a three-dimensional environment where they are tasked with building structures, and artwork. Players have even gone so far as to build structures like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and even Hogwarts.
The game promotes creativity as well as problem-solving, and has been used by schools for educational purposes.
Aisha Bushby was selected as one of only four previously unpublished authors in the Stripes anthology for BAME writers, A Change is Gonna Come, alongside writers such as Patrice Lawrence, Tanya Byrne and Nikesh Shukla. The anthology was awarded a YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award.
Since then she has been taking part in panels, interviews and events across the UK, from Bristol Waterstones to Manchester Academy, Birmingham Literature Festival to Southbank YALW, BBC Radio 3 to Buzzfeed.
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A Pocketful of Stars