There is something quintessentially Australian about this ripping yarn, perhaps attributable to The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee’s wholehearted championing of the underdog and its embrace of the spectacularly silly gesture . . . It demands to be adapted for film, containing as it does, all the desired elements for a successful Australian film including a quirky humour, exaggerated characters and projecting an image of ourselves as a generous-minded nation.
Tali Lavi, Magpies, Vol 31
A most heart-warming, spirit-lifting story of a family and a community getting together to overcome all sorts of obstacles and hardships to make a dream come true . . . This is an inspirational story that would make a great read-aloud and a wonderful read-alone . . . Deborah Abela has written a most profound book, very different from much that is available to younger readers today, and created not only an engaging, what-happens-next story but one built around a family who will be readily recognisable by readers.
Barbara Braxton, thebottomshelf.edublogs.org/
In small country towns there is often a vigorous community spirit, especially for the ‘battlers’ and this story exemplifies that . . . Sending a really positive message about striving for dreams and having a support network [The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee] is a great read for children from around 9 years upwards. It would also make a terrific ‘read aloud’.
Sue Warren, losangzopa.wordpress.com
Highly recommended . . . With each chapter heading being a new complex word along with its meaning and use in a sentence, the emphasis on words is given an extra boost in this wonderfully charming story about a spelling competition . . . At each turn, India's path to the finals is blocked, but help from sometimes unexpected quarters always come along, reflecting the common goodness in people's hearts. This is a sympathetic and likable tale of a young girl overcoming her fears to achieving her goal, and meeting some supportive people along the way.
Fran Knight, http://www.readplus.com.au
There is a lot to like about this story for mid to upper grade primary kids. The hero, India Wimple, is a shy kid from the small country town of Yungabilla . . . [The] theme of being able to succeed with the support of family and friends is underscored throughout the book. India does suffer from anxiety, but she is able to overcome it with the constant support of her family and a boy, Rajish, who she befriends in the competition. As part of the spelling competition, readers will be introduced to tricky words they might not already know. Cleverly, each chapter is headed by a new word and definition which foreshadows what will follow . . . I really enjoyed the small twist at the end too.
Heather Gallagher, CBCA Reading Time
Writing an engaging story about a spelling bee could be a daunting task but Deborah Abela has done an excellent job . . . I think The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee is her best yet. This Australian novel for children will be a great Christmas present and holiday read for girls and boys.
Joy Lawn, blog.boomerangbooks.com.au