Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis

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Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Eleanor Faulkner
Reviewed by Eleanor Faulkner
Summary: Lewis explores themes of trust, loss, expectation, community, class and change both boldly and passionately, yet gracefully and un-confrontationally in this radical adventure for animal-mad children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: October 2017
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0192749253

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Since the death of his father, the moors no longer offer Joe the sense of freedom and tranquillity that they once did. Instead, they become a battleground for a fight over the fate of the hen harriers which are nesting in the heather. This is a fight that Joe becomes wrapped up in and he is required to make some serious decisions. Knowing that he can't please everyone, he decides to stay true to what he really believes in and in doing so, he finds friendship in two unlikely characters: the stylish daughter of wealthy landowners and a naïve townie involuntarily transplanted to the countryside. The three of them learn to overcome their differences and trust each other as they question what really matters to them and how they can make a difference.

Whilst this may sound like a scenario far-removed from most readers' everyday lives, the text is rich with evocative descriptions of the English landscape that make you feel as if you are really there. Gill Lewis also provides insightful details about the wildlife and habitats and paints vivid pictures of the vibrant, believable characters. There reader is left with, therefore, no problem in relating to this compelling story and empathising with the characters, each of whom have different but entirely understandable perspectives. Everything about the story rings true.

This is a radical story with many thought-provoking messages. One of my favourite messages is that a traditional way of life is not necessarily the right way of life, and an example of this from the book occurs in an electrifying scene when Ella, recently moved to the countryside, and Minty, the daughter of the landowner, have spark-flying argument about how the land is managed. Minty thinks she has all the answers – her family has, after all, lived on this land for generations. Ella, however, has done her homework and has researched all the plants and animals the moors could support if they were managed differently, and this eagerness to learn and thirst for knowledge eventually earns Minty's respect.

Although it's set amongst the game-keeping community on the remote moorlands of rural English, it is in fact extremely relevant to the modern world in which we are living today. It will cause readers to question what we value about our environment and to consider the future, sustainability and conservation of our world as it raises important ethical issues about diversity. However, Lewis's writing makes it evident that she does not intend the reader to adopt a particular view; it is certainly not socialist or environmentalist propaganda. Rather, is will make readers feel that readers can surmount huge obstacles if they stick up for what they believe. Readers will feel empowered to make a valuable contribution towards a better future.

Regular cliff-hangers and a zippy plot keep the reader interested and I think it would easily appeal to both boys and girls. Whilst the language, content and style is perfect for aged 10+, older readers would benefit from the more challenging ethical questions and emotional intelligence.

Further reading suggestions:

Brock by Anthony McGowan
Fox Friend by Michael Morpurgo and Joanna Carey

Buy Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis at

Buy Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis at


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