Twitch by M G Leonard

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Twitch by M G Leonard

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Beautifully written, I just loved everything about this ornithological mystery adventure!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: June 2021
Publisher: Walker Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1406389371

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Twitch is a boy who loves birds. He keeps pigeons at home, and chickens, and even has swallows nesting in his bedroom! His time spent watching and helping birds is easy compared to that of his time in school. But things are about to change for Twitch in all aspects of his life as there is a dangerous bank robber on the run, and it's possible that the missing bank haul is hidden somewhere in Aves Wood, the place where Twitch has his secret hide and that he knows like the back of his hand! Can Twitch solve the mystery, and find the missing millions?

I really loved this book, and most especially Twitch. Although the book starts with Twitch being set upon by some mean boys, I liked how he wasn't passive, nor brow-beaten by the experience. He was trying to defend a pigeon, and we see that he isn't afraid to step in when he feels it's the right thing to do. He is a really interesting character, very much aware that he is different, and nervous to allow anyone else see into his homelife, and yet he is a happy boy, and confident in the value of his own interests. He is knowledgeable, and kind, and it's so lovely to watch him bloom as he begins to share his interests with others.

It's interesting to learn about Twitch along the way - to see how he cares for his birds, and to hear about his relationship with his grandad, who is no longer alive, and his amazing, secret hide for birdwatching. I love his knowledge of nature, and the woods, and you can sense his wonder at the world around him as you read. The plot twists and turns, looking at the very real issues of who people really are, and how you can tell whether you can trust someone. There are moments of suspense, excitement, and plenty of action. I won't say too much about the resolution for fear of giving spoilers, but it's really wonderfully done! I particularly liked how Twitch's skills and knowledge come into play in the story with regards to understanding what's happening with certain characters, and with the grand finale too.

The story is also a lovely portrayal of a developing friendship, showing the slips and trips that can occur along the way, and the very realistic viewpoint that not everyone is actually who they might appear to be, and many people are wearing 'masks', for a variety of reasons. I really enjoyed watching Jack and Twitch together, and the way their story unfolds is really beautifully done, and full of unexpected moments. Secondary characters don't feel like extras, but as if they too have their fully formed stories tucked away behind them. Twitch's neighbour was a particular favourite for me.

I enjoyed all the little bits and pieces about birds throughout the book. Several years ago I went to a talk at my W.I. about birdsong, and in my ignorance I had fully expected it to be dreadfully boring! But it turned out to be one of my favourite W.I. meetings ever, and since then I have loved to sit in our garden and see how many individual bird calls I can hear, and (sometimes!) identify. So I really enjoyed seeing Twitch understand and identify bird calls, sharing the joy of the dawn chorus with his friend, and using his knowledge to gain advantage in the mystery along the way.

This is just one of those really, really good books that is very readable, with a great story and characters you're interested in and care about. It's written perfectly, with a good pace to the plot, and a lovely warmth to it throughout. There were no jarring moments, I was just completely caught up in the story for the whole book. Recommended for readers around 8 to 12 years old, and grown ups like me who still enjoy the delight of a great adventure story!

You might also like to read another book by this author Beetle Boy by M G Leonard.

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