Rook by Anthony McGowan

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Rook by Anthony McGowan

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Third and final instalment of the wonderful arc about brothers Kenny and Nicky. It's as wonderful as the first two and we will miss these two boys. Dyslexia friendly, too.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 104 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1781127239

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Shortlisted for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie Medal

When Nicky and his learning-disabled brother Kenny come across a rook being attacked by a sparrowhawk, they chase off the raptor and rescue the rook.Kenny is convinced that a good dollop of love and affection is all that's needed to keep the bird alive but Nicky is sceptical. And in any case, Nicky has other things to worry about, like avoiding the bully at school and finding a way to talk to the girl he likes. In the previous two books in this sequence, troubles were dogging Kenny and the boys' father but in Rook it's Nicky who could do with a helping hand. Things are about to go wrong. Will Nicky find a way through?

I'm happy to own up to being a huge fan of Anthony McGowan. His ability to accurately represent the inner lives of young people is unparalleled. And he makes you laugh! I still snigger every time I remember Henry Tumour. Rook has flashes of humour too - of the wry kind. Nicky's attempts at a nascent romance will make you smile and Kenny may well be naive but his blunt pronouncements are often excellent punch lines. But Rook isn't a comedy. It's a story about growing up, about coping with a bully, about making the right decisions. And you'll root for Nicky all the way.

You'd think that in a short story such as this, there's little room for the poetic. Not so. Rook is full of the beauty of language and at times it's truly arresting. Try just these snippets and you'll see what I mean:

Sometimes you can hear someone smile - a sound like someone carefully taking the wrapping off a present.

Even a little dog like Tina feels kind of solid and real, because of the meat and bone in her, but the rook felt like you were carrying a dream or a thought.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Now for the technicalities. Rook is part of Barrington Stoke's super-readable range. This means it's dyslexia friendly and suitable for readers who like a stonking good story but are reluctant to get bogged down in books the size of a brick. It's printed on thick, non-glare paper in a specially designed font which makes life easier for dyslexic readers. And while the themes and story line are meant for teenagers, the reading age suits anyone of 9 and above. What you get is a wonderful read in which every word counts. I'd also like to congratulate Barrington Stoke on the way they commission some of our best writers for young people to write impactful, serious, literary stories that are accessible to all. It matters.

Rook is a satisfying and meaningful conclusion to a fabulous sequence and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Of course, if you haven't read Brock, the first book in the series, you really must. Other wonderful and super-readable stories for teen book fans include Persist by Melvin Burgess and The Harder They Fall by Bali Rai.

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Buy Rook by Anthony McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rook by Anthony McGowan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Rook by Anthony McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rook by Anthony McGowan at


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