never better

There’s never been a better time for novels for kids.

I’ve recently read some that I’ve loved. The Fire Eaters by David Almond is one. A beautiful, atmospheric moment in life of Bobby Burns who lives in a small sea-side town, Keely Bay, at the time of the “Cuban crisis”, when it looks like the world is about to go up in smoke.

“Keely Bay. It’s a tiny corner of the world. It’s nothing to the universe. A tatty place, a coaly beach by a coaly sea. I know that we don’t matter. Maybe nothing matters. Whatever happens the stars will go on shining and the sun will go on shining and the world will go on spinning through the blackness and the emptiness. But it’s where I live and where the people I love live and where the things I love live.”

That sense of where I live and where the people I love live is there when Bobby goes into the sea to dredge coal with Ailsa’s family:

“We went to the sea. I rolled my jeans up past my knees but it was useless. In seconds I was soaked. Ailsa’s dad and brothers wore ancient chest-high-waders. She was bare-legged.

‘Howay, man,’ said Yak. ‘Get your bliddy keks off.’

So I stripped down to my pants, threw my jeans on to the sand and plunged forward into the waves. I had a battered metal sieve. I shoved it down into the sand beneath the sea, let the waves sluice through it so that the sand fell through, then I tipped the black remains on to the cart. Ailsa’s dad and brothers worked further out, with huge flat spades and massive sieves. Yak and Losh kept wading back with buckets full of coal.

‘Black gold!’ sang Losh. ‘Come and buy our beautiful black gold.'”

It makes me want to read more of his books:

The Savage The Boy Who Climbed into the MoonMy Dad's a Birdman

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I did read My Dad’s a Birdman to Sam a short while ago. Quirky, allowing quirkiness to be normal. Dad is crazy, he wants to fly like a bird. His daughter Lizzie helps him, and together they enter the Great Human Bird Competition…

Just-right illustrations from Polly Dunbar too.


1 Comment »

  1. […] mentioned one of David Almond’s collaborations with Polly Dunbar before. Now I’ve read another, The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon. Like My Dad’s A […]

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