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SLA's Friday Favourites (06/05)

06 May 2022 Share

Reading recommendations we think you'll love.

Title: The Sky Over Rebecca

Author: Matthew Fox

Publisher: Hodder

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 14th April 2022

ISBN: 9781444964707

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Kara is lonely. Very shy, she hasn’t made friends at school and at home her Mum works long hours into the evening, leaving Kara to her own devices. She has a kindred spirit in her Grandfather, living a short distance away, who passed onto Kara his telescope to look at the night sky. In winter, Kara has plenty of time to do this as Stockholm, where she lives, spends much of the time in the dark, although the opposite is true of the summer. Yet still light pollution prevents the sight of some of the sky.

One day on the way home from school, Kara spots a newly made snow angel – curiously with no footsteps leading to or from it. Later she does see footprints in the snow but across the rooftops as if someone has floated from roof to roof. Yet both are impossible.

These questions of Kara’s are answered when she finally meets Rebecca and her brother Samuel. But more questions arise, not least how can Kara help the pair - more than simply donating an old woollen coat to help keep Rebecca warm.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I hesitate to use the word 'gentle' about such a violent period in history, but Kara is concerned about the siblings and Rebecca only wants to save her brother, both girls selflessly caring for others in stark contrast of the way the siblings had been treated in their camps from which they escaped. When you consider the inhumanity of Nazi Germany, the kindness shown by individuals is the complete opposite.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

A different take on a period of history and which even now in this story offers up a new perspective from someone affected by its events. Being told Rebecca’s story through Kara’s thoughtful nature informs children without going into graphic detail the horrors of a persecuted nation at that time.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

For those children wanting ghosts stories, this has substance without being overly melodramatic and is well written.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

As background reading for WWII topics this won't offer new facts, but does present a variation on a theme.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Matthew Fox grew up in Wiltshire, England and now lives in Stockholm, Sweden. He has been writing for years and has entered hundreds of writing competitions. In February 2020 Matthew won the Bath Children’s Novel Award. Literary Agent Lauren Gardner signed Matthew, and together they continued to work on the manuscript of The Sky Over Rebecca, which was then bought by Hodder for publication in 2022.

Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.


Available here


Title: The Blue Book of Nebo

Author: Manon Steffan Ros

Publisher: Firefly Press

Age: 13-19

Publication date: 6th January 2022

ISBN: 9781913102784

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

A post-nuclear apocalypse dystopian novel set in Wales, this follows Dylan and his mother who take it in turns to record their thoughts in a blue book ‘acquired’ from a scavenge for survival rations.

Rowenna describes The End when the electricity went off, but Dylan who was very young when The End came focuses on the present. As the book is kept up for years we hear about all the skills Dylan learns to keep them alive. Both mother and son discover strengths they did not know they had.

One of the raids Rowenna had done was on the local library and much of Dylan’s life is reading and relating his life to that of an eclectic reading diet.

There are huge gaps in his knowledge and he does have questions – not least from where did his baby sister come, born with his help, with the delivery some years after The End. This question is answered for the reader when Rowenna records it in the notebook – just in case anything happens to her.

A book focused on the lives of two people, but providing a wealth of issues to consider.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Rowenna and Dylan know they are alone in their area but as communication is impossible they have no way of knowing about further afield so have become accustomed to surviving alone. In the recent pandemic, we may have been confined to barracks, but communication was very much still possible. Yet the social isolation of the last two years and inability to call upon usual help still made life difficult for most of us.

The most sobering thought came at the end of the book when Rowenna realised she was far happier now than she was when she supposedly had everything. It was different for Dylan, who day dreamed about the thought of meeting peers his own age, never having had much experience of social situations. It makes the reader consider their own lives.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

It is of little wonder that books about enforced isolation are being written at the moment, but this is a book which will last because of the philosophical questions it poses the reader. Would I be as resourceful?


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

The novel is quite short but manages to raise some important questions which will mean something different for everyone. A book which will resonate for a long time.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

A gift for book clubs around the country – adult and YA alike. There is also a lot of Welsh tradition covered which is great to see.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Manon Steffan Ros was brought up in the village of Rhiwlas near Bangor and now lives in Tywyn, Meirionnydd, with her sons. After leaving school, she worked as an actress for a few years before becoming a writer.

Follow her on Twitter.


Available here