My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery

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My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Well-written and beautifully illustrated story about a young girl grieving for her older brother. Highly recommended. Tom Avery popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849397827

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Longlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal

Kaia feels frozen after the death of her beloved older brother. With her mum not talking about it and both struggling to cope, she withdraws into a shell and stops spending time with her friends. Then a mysterious boy joins her school and she starts to spend time with him. Even though he never speaks, she slowly starts to come out of her shell. Can she ever rediscover happiness?

I liked this a lot – it’s a well-written and moving look at grief and recovery which feels realistic in the time Kaia takes to start to come to terms with her brother’s death, but ultimately optimistic. In addition to Avery capturing his characters well with his writing, it’s worth noting that this is one of the best-looking books I’ve seen for a long time. The cover, with tree branches twisting to form the title, is wonderful, while Kate Grove's illustrations inside add a huge amount to the story. Her black and white pictures really capture the tone of the book perfectly. There's one in particular, of a line of school children forming to protect someone, which took my breath away.

I also thought that the pacing here was really good - Avery is brilliant at building up to big moments by foreshadowing; not easy to do in a relatively slim book but the eventual revelations of the circumstances of Kaia's brother's death, and of the significance of the book about trees which Kaia was constantly reading and referring to, are both very well done. The adult characters are particularly well-portrayed as well, with Kaia's mum, wrapped up in her own grief, and teacher Mr Wills both seeming very fleshed out despite the book's relatively short length.

Overall this is an excellent read and I'd be interested in reading more books written by Tom Avery, and/or illustrated by Kate Grove.

Another really touching book about a girl dealing with the loss of a family member is Life, Death and Gold Leather Trousers by Fiona Foden, which is perhaps aimed at slightly older readers than this but will still be enjoyed by all, I'd say.

Bookinterviews.jpg Tom Avery was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery at


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