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Absolutely blown away by these SuperQuesters books from Questfriendz. These incredible books have been designed to support children in developing STEM skills in an exciting way. Within each book, children will follow a story with familiar characters throughout the series, and complete a special activity or ‘quest’. Each quest allows the children the opportunity to develop STEM skills such as coding, debugging, problem solving, reasoning and branching through the use of reusable stickers – and who doesn’t love a sticker?! Children then earn a reward sticker to place on a Reward Chart to celebrate their achievements. 

The Case of the Great Energy Robbery focuses on the theme of renewable energy and resources. It follows friends Leo, Lilli and Bea on a quest to power a model plane as they journey to Questland to follow clues about what biofuel is and how to create it. But when they arrive, the Queen needs the help of the SuperQuesters to stop Lord Grumble draining all the energy out of Questland! And so, the SuperQuesters embark on an adventure finding out all about how energy can be made from different natural resources and work through each quest to solve their latest case and defeat Lord Grumble!

These books are not only fun, engaging and interactive, they are a perfect way for curious children to be introduced to the world of STEM. Full of colourful and exciting illustrations by Amy Willcox and expertly written by husband and wife team, Dr Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss, these incredible books are essential in teaching children about environmental issues and STEM as well as developing young minds in an exciting screen-free way.

SuperQuesters: The Case of the Great Energy Robbery

Author Q&A with Dr Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss

Thank you so much for joining us on the VIP Reading blog and for answering our questions about the third instalment in the SuperQuesters series, The Case of the Great Energy Robbery!

Congratulations on another incredible book filled with fun, adventure and interactive quests. We are huge fans of the series and enjoyed solving the STEM challenges ourselves! We think this STEM-sational new book will be another huge hit!

1. The SuperQuesters series are a really wonderful set of books. Not only do they have great characters and a brilliant narrative, children also get the opportunity to learn important skills through STEM learning. What gave you the idea to create books like these and how important do you think they are in developing these skills in children? 

In 2018, when our twin daughters were 3 and half years old, Thomas and I were looking for books and toys that would encourage STEM skills development. However, what we discovered was that the options for books, games and toys were limited for the age group. Shocked at the lack of choice and the negative stereotypes still being shared with children, such as only showing scientists as boys who wear white lab coats, we decided we had to do something about it.  We want children to feel STEM learning is possible and accessible for everyone across gender, diverse ethnicities sand socioeconomic backgrounds. Children at a young age need to have opportunities to practice their STEM skills and a perfect way to do this is through reading, without even realising children learn key STEM skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, coding, and sequencing simultaneously improving their overall vocabulary and literacy levels. 

2. In The Case of the Great Energy Robbery, the SuperQuesters learn all about renewable energy and biofuels. Without giving too much away, what can children expect to learn about in this book?  

This new instalment focusses on environmental themes such as renewable energy and resources. Children whilst reading will learn all about how renewable energy is produced from different natural resources; the wind, sun, plant oil, animal manure, algae and ocean waves. As the environmental theme including renewable energy and biofuels is an integral part of the exciting adventure story, it makes learning more engaging for the children. They learn while having fun! This approach makes the theme accessible even for the most reluctant readers. There are also an assortment of fun science facts included throughout the book and a glossary at the end.

3. In The Case of the Great Energy Robbery, Leo, Lilli and Bea are all best friends who turn into the SuperQuesters in order to defeat the evil Lord Grumble. How did you develop the characters? What gave you the inspiration for Leo, Lilli and Bea? 

Lilli (Lillicorn)was originally created by our daughters. They are tri-lingual girls with an extreme love and fascination for unicorns. For the longest time they would confuse the word unicorn across the three languages and created their own word “Lillicorn” which is a cross between unicorn, Licorne (French) and Eenhoorn (Dutch). Bea (Bumble) was created to provide incredible invention ideas whilst looking for creative solutions. She is a master problem-solver. Leo (Zoom) is based on QuestFriendz co-founder, Thomas Bernard! Thomas loves maths, computer science and all things tech. He and Leo also share a passion for aviation and space travel. However, Thomas lives vicariously through Leo Zoom as he suffers from vertigo!

4.The activities or ‘quests’ within the books are brilliant! How do you begin to develop the ideas for each of these and how long does it take? 

This is an iterative and interactive process. Thomas plays a lead role in this given his STEM background with degrees in Physics, Mathematics and Engineering along with a PhD in Computer Engineering. He works together with UK educational experts and we test concepts/quest activities along the way with primary teachers, subject matter experts and children. 

5. The illustrations by Amy Willcox, really bring the characters and setting to life! How important are the illustrations to the SuperQuesters books?

Very! Not only do they bring the characters to life but they are also integral to the quests. Developing the books has been brilliant as we have learnt that working with a fantastic Art Director is as important as having the right illustrator. Our Art Director, Sophie Stericker, works with us and Amy Willcox to seamlessly combine the words and pictures to create a fantastic experience for the readers. There are so many visual clues for children to take in which touch on not just STEM but diversity and inclusion, that the illustrations are central to sharing our mission and also for the readers enjoyment. Plus, the visuals must be correct for the quests to work! 

6. Why do you think there is a gap in STEM skills in children and how important are your books in helping to bridge this gap?  

For many parents and teachers, the idea of introducing children to STEM topics and developing a STEM learning mindset can feel daunting. It conjures up visions of complexity, feelings of intimidation and lack of understanding as to how to best approach the topic. Using fiction books and storytelling is an ideal and effective way of sharing new information in the familiar setting. Parents can read the books with their children or, for independent readers, leave them to go it alone. By using absorbing and interactive plots, children are encouraged to engage in STEM topics in a new ways. It helps them see how subjects like coding are something they can do. The stories focus on building the readers confidence so that they feel more inclined to engage in STEM in real world scenarios in the future.

7. Book four, SuperQuesters: The Case of the Angry Sea will be out next year! Can you give us a little insight into what we might expect from your fourth book? 

In book 4, the SuperQuesters are trying to clear rubbish from their local river. They think there must be a better way than picking individual pieces out with their classmates. They travel to Questland to find inspiration. But when they arrive, they find Questand’s sea has been polluted by Lord Grumble and his new mischief maker, Captain Blackwaters. The SuperQuester’s mission is to save the sea from the pollution which is harming the marine life including otters and narwhals. Book 4 also has an environmental theme running through the story this time focusing on water pollution and recycling. It is perfect for key events in Spring 2024 including World Water Day, World Recycling Day, British Science Week and Earth Day. The book is a good way to open up discussions about these environmental issues with your children.

8.Can you describe SuperQuesters: The Case of the Great Energy Robbery in three words?

Adventurous, Magical, Fun! 

Q&A hosted by
Krystal McCann