Exciting, atmospheric, haunting, poignant…

middle

…Geraldine McCaughrean’s new novel is all those and more, which is why we’ve selected it as the first of our friday reads this week!

Set in the outback of Victorian Australia, it is a most lovely but at the same time very scary story of a young girl, Comity (the name is important!), her Aboriginal friend Fred, and the upheavals in their lives after the tragic death of her mother at the remote telegraph station where they live.  Rich in characterisation, atmosphere and with fabulous language,  young readers will get caught up in the exciting plot.  There is a universal message about ‘comity’ (look it up!) and mutual respect and friendship between races.  I’ve several favourite McCaughreans, and this goes up straight up there with the others!

For our second pick this week, we’ve gone for a book produced by an exciting new illustrator we feel especially strongly about! OK, we admit it: we’re ever-so slightly biased because the book in question, The Grey Go-Away Bird by James Barker, is the debut title by the very talented son of our senior assistant – and we genuinely think he is a great new talent! james barker

The illustrations are stunning, and the accompanying story an appealing one about a grey bird who lives on an island with a host of others gifted with brightly coloured feathers.  Our grey protagonist tends to get forgotten and left out, but when two bird catchers land on the island intending to capture the beautiful colourful birds, he gallantly comes to their rescue and the tale ends happily with new friends made. The dramatic pictures contrast the beauty of the island with the belligerent, greedy humans so there is an environmental message alongside the friendship theme. Absolutely wonderful, and more of James’s work can be seen over on his blog here.

(The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean, Usborne, £9.99 hardback, 9781409522003)

(The Grey Go-Away Bird by James Barker, Cha com Letras, £11.99 hardback, 9780992751302)

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