Lark by Anthony McGowan

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Lark by Anthony McGowan

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: We say goodbye to Nicky and Kenny in this, the last story about them. It's perhaps the most beautiful of them all and that's saying something.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 120 Date: January 2019
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781128435

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I'll warn you first.

This is the fourth and last story about Nicky and Kenny. Try not to cry before you've even read the first page.

Things have got tense at home - again - for Nicky and his learning-disabled brother Kenny. Their mum is coming to visit - the mum who abandoned them a long time ago. They haven't seen her for years and the impending visit is stirring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. And Nicky's girlfriend has ended things. To take their minds off it all, Nicky and Kenny plan a day out, trekking across the moors. But it doesn't go to plan and an accident puts both boys - and their dog, Tina - in terrible danger.

I won't say more because you should read Lark for yourself. It's as gorgeous and life-affirming and as bittersweet and heartbreaking as you imagine. I cried and cried and cried. But I also smiled and laughed. Lots. I don't know what it is about Anthony McGowan, but he can write about the inner lives of young people with such wonderful detail and can tap in to the deepest wells of emotion without ever being saccharine or coy. Nicky has had a trying life, plagued by poverty, a missing parent, a parent with alcohol issues, trouble with bullies, and the responsibility of being a young carer for his brother. But somehow, the love he has for Kenny has carried him through. And who could dislike Kenny? A child of blunt speech, crazy obsessions and, despite disability, an unerring sense of right and wrong.

A love of and respect for nature pervades every page of this book. Nature is beautiful but it can also be tough and grim. It's been a constant theme through this series and, in Lark, it reaches a climax. And that's all I'm telling you.

Lark, like its predecessors, has been written with dyslexic readers in mind. The reading age is 9+ while the interest age is 13+. It has a specially chosen font and is printed on non-glare, off-white paper. Personally, I am also a fan of the novella and the story that is all the more sweet for its brevity, so these features suit me as much as any dyslexic reader and will also suit anyone who feels the same. I'd like to commend Barrington Stoke for Lark and all the other wonderful books in its super-readable range. They aren't simple. Lark is not simple. It is the beautiful culmination of a series of stories about two brothers facing complex emotional and practical issues and who share a transcendental love of nature. And it is written by one of our best authors for young people; someone who knows how to get inside their minds and communicate the strength and depth of the way they feel about their lives.

I'll miss Nicky and Kenny more than I can say. Thank you for their stories, Tony.

Don't miss Brock, the first book in this lovely, lovely, series. And if it appeals, The Harder They Fall by Bali Rai, also from Barrington Stoke's dyslexia friendly range, might also appeal. If short, sharp, arresting stories are your thing, you could look at the Blade series by Tim Bowler. It's electrifying.

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

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


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