Jackdaw Summer by David Almond
|Jackdaw Summer by David Almond|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A brooding story about holding back an approaching darkness, the connection between local and international, the conflict between organised religion and humanism and the power of art, all inside a young boy groping towards his future. As classy as you'd expect.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: November 2008|
|External links: Author's website|
Bomb them right back to the Stone Age!
Military jets fly overhead as Liam's friends are playing the kinds of war games Northumbrian boys have played for generations. These games both repulse and entice Liam. Their instigator and leader, Natrass, simply repulses him, but Liam feels their pull regardless. His best friend, Max, offers altogether safer company, but Max's conformity is beginning to make Liam feel restless and trapped.
On a walk into the wild Northumbrian landscape, the boys follow a jackdaw which leads them to a ruined chapel. There, they find abandoned baby with a note left by its mother - PLESE LOOK AFTER HER RITE. THIS IS A CHILDE OF GOD. And they do. They take the baby home, call the police, and keep in contact with the eventual foster family. But, in the background, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, people are still being bombed "back to the Stone Age", and Liam is still struggling with the echoes of this violence in the games of his peers.
It's a brooding, dark, dangerous story, Jackdaw Summer. The pull of family bonds and the redeeming power of love, both strong themes for David Almond, seem distant, more blurred, than they do in some of his other books. There's a darkness approaching, and it's getting too close for comfort.
It is also, as ever, a book of startling quality and tremendous beauty, with deceptively simple but lyrical prose. There are so many subtle connections and conflicts that I couldn't even try to list them all. It's about the connection between local and international and history and the present, the conflict between organised religion and humanism, and the power of art to make clear or incite. Everything's an undercurrent; everything has a purpose; everyone's purpose is their own. But community and relationships tie us and save us. This combination of ideas and beautiful words; these questions; these multi-layered answers - these are the questions of childhood, and they are David Almond's peculiar skill.
He is the voice of our reachings-out for explanations of the riddles of our lives and for enrichment of their texture. He speaks to us all. As ever, highly recommended.
Jackdaw Summer by David Almond is in the Top Ten Books To Drag The Kids Away From Computer Games For Ten Minutes At Least.
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