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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Report: Cecelia Ahern at County Hall, Preston 

On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to be able to accompany 3 of the young volunteers I work with to see Cecelia Ahern at County Hall, Preston, an event that was organised by Silverwood Events in partnership with Lancashire Libraries.

Going to any author event is a treat. But going to see an author you particularly admire in an impressive venue like County Hall is extra special. And seeing young people inspired and enthused and then desperate to get home and start reading is the absolute cherry on top. 

Cecelia was in conversation with our very own YLG North West representative and current Chair Elect, Jake Hope, and was promoting her new novel Perfect, the follow-up to her debut YA novel, Flawed, which was published in 2016 and brilliantly received.


Topics discussed on the night included Cecelia’s career so far, the differences between writing adult and young adult fiction, and the ways in which (particularly with the proliferation of social media) people can be so quick to judge others and publicly shame them for their mistakes. This is a central theme in the Flawed series, in which anyone that is deemed to be imperfect is physically branded with an F for Flawed – with the location of the F dependent on what it is they are judged to have done wrong. It’s dark and compelling and the parallels with our own society give real pause for thought.


Cecelia also talked about her experiences of promoting her young adult books and some of the schools she has visited. She talked about how often the pupils that ask the most questions are the ones described by the teachers as the ‘quiet ones,’ and how vital author visits are in showing young people that they can make a living from writing, that there are people out there that have done it and do it every day. 

This was a really well-organised, enjoyable event – Jake has a lovely interview manner and Cecelia was a brilliant speaker – refreshing, down-to earth and funny too. The young people were buzzing about the event on the train home  – and so was I! 🙂

Emma