CKG Reviews: Rook by Anthony McGowan

Continuing with our series of reviews of the CKG shortlisted titles, today Amanda gives her verdict on Rook by Anthony McGowan, from the Carnegie list.

What the publisher says…

When Kenny and Nicky rescue a rook left for dead, Kenny is determined to keep it alive. Nicky doubts the scruffy bird will make it, but then Nicky has plenty else to worry about – a school bully, his first love, and the fact that everything is about to go very, very wrong.

https://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/books/rook/

rook

What we say…

I have to admit, when I saw Rook was on The Carnegie Shortlist I was a little skeptical. It was a Barrington Stoke book and I always believed them to be much easier reads without much substance (this was of course because I hadn’t read any!)

The first two pages did put me off a little as it described the birds fighting, but as soon as Kenny and Nicky came flying onto the page I thought – I’m going to enjoy this.

I loved the way Nicky looked out for his brother and really felt his pain when he was dealing with his issues. I feel a true testament to how powerful the writing was, was me thinking – if I was at the school I would sort out those boys!  And having to remind myself – its not real.

The topics were all dealt with sensitively and with realism and I would highly recommend this book to every student as it was very relatable.

Even though it was the third one about the boys it didn’t make the story incomprehensible, it simply made me want to read the earlier novels, Brock and Pike, which I now have.

One of my students in the shadowing group stated she liked it as it was realistic the way the school children were with each other but she was confused where mum was. I have suggested she reads the others.

A great read.

Amanda

You can see what Anthony McGowan has to say about Rook on the Carnegie shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=1

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Review: The White Fox – Jackie Morris

The White Fox by Jackie MorrisThis week I’ve been reading Jackie Morris’s Greenaway 2018 nominated The White Fox – given the weather we’ve had this week, I couldn’t have hoped for a better book!

The day the fox comes, things begin to change for Sol. He’s adrift too, lost in the big city with his father, longing for the wild and frozen north. The fox offers a way back, a chance to reconnect, to find his way home.

Blue grey wintry tones set against the thick cream paper stock that is Barrington Stoke’s trademark make this the perfect book to curl up with on a wintry evening. Jackie Morris once again weaves words and pictures into a pocket sized work of beauty.The White Fox - Jackie Morris

At only 84 pages long the story is deceptively deep. Sol, bullied at school and adrift in a big city, feels a natural affinity with the white fox which mysteriously turns up on Seattle’s docks. It offers him a way back home and a reconnection with both the wild landscape of Alaska and his family.

The whole book breathes: clutches of snowy birch trees offer punctuation to the text and a tiny fox rushes along the bottom corner whilst gloriously saturated double page spreads allow the reader a moment of quiet reflection to connect to the wider themes of the book.
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Both Sol and the fox begin the story profoundly out of place – beautifully conveyed in the opening illustrations which show the fox lost among the dark and overwhelming man made structures. However, as Sol’s connection to the fox, and indeed his own family, develops the colour palette lightens and we progress through the shining snow of the forest and the emerald green backdrop of his grandmother’s house to culminate in the shimmering, gold spangled, blue of the night sky. There is a satisfying sense of a journey having taken place – both literal and emotional. A truly satisfying read.

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