Brock by Anthony McGowan

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Brock by Anthony McGowan

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Bleak, gritty and at times deeply depressing this is one of the most realistic depictions of a modern childhood on the fringe I have ever read. But through all of the darkness a single ray of hope shines through in the most unlikely of forms, a small badger cub, and the courage a young boy must find in order to save it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 72 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd.
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781122082

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Longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal

The events of the badger bait are horrifying. Thankfully the author does not feel the need to give us all the gory detail, but in a sense, he has made it more terrifying but what is left unsaid. Everything about this book is extremely realistic. I am an adult, and this book had my stomach in knots. It isn't just what happens to the animals, but the psychological terror directed at the boys as well. This is made more intense by the level of character development in this book. McGowan has created characters with such depth I can't help wondering if he has based any of this on real children. Perhaps not the badger baiting part, but the inner turmoil created by poverty, shattered families, and the responsibility of being a caretaker at an early age as well many other personality traits which are so true to life it is difficult to believe you are reading fiction. The characters in this book are so genuine, I feel as if I know them. My son also commented on how much he liked certain characters, a sure sign that the author has succeeded in making the characters real to the reader.

Sometimes good can come from the most horrible things, and while Nicky can not prevent all of the carnage, he does what he can to help the animals, and ends up returning home with not one, but two helpless creatures. This simple event will change the lives of Nicky and his family. The inertia that has settled over the family is broken and things begin to change. Sometimes a small act can have huge consequences, and doing the right thing does pay off eventually. In the meantime though, the bullies who organised the badger hunt are not at all happy to find out anything has survived their blood bath. This is a book about raw courage with can be both heart-breaking and uplifting.

Brock is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children and young adults with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children, but at a much lower reading level than the interest level. This is one of their longer stories, and does not have illustrations. It could easily appeal to adults as well as to older children. I loved this book and so did my eight year old son. We both read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down once we had started. I think this suits a very wide age range, adults included, but I would advise parents that this does contain strong language, violence and some scenes that could frighten a younger child.

If this book appeals then you might also like to try:

My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

How Brave Is That? by Anne Fine and Vicki Gausden

Buy Brock by Anthony McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Brock by Anthony McGowan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Brock by Anthony McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Brock by Anthony McGowan at Amazon.com.


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