Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant

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Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: The story of the childhood of two siblings in the looked after system. The voice is authentic and it doesn't shy away from the loss and sadness but this book is truly, truly, truly uplifting. Hard to credit it's a debut novel. Children and parents alike will love this story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: May 2015
Publisher: Nosy Crow
ISBN: 0857633996

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I've put this story together from the diaries I kept when Zac and I were children. I wrote them in the hope that life would get better for the small unloved girl that was me, and my even smaller unloved brother. And if life didn't get better or at least more interesting I was going to make it up - to put witches and castles and rides in fast cars. But I didn't need to. Life got exciting all by itself...

Zac and Miracle - she prefers Ira - are looked-after children. And Ira begins their story in October 1987 when they move from the home of the latest set of foster carers into Skilly House, a small children's home. The best things about Skilly House are the wild garden, Silas and Hortense, and some, but not all, of the other children. The worst thing, aside from sharing a bedroom and the taciturn Mrs Clanks, is being a care kid. Being a care kid marks you out and you spend an awful lot of your time trying not to give away this critical fact about yourself.

The tale continues right up to June 1990 but I won't tell you what happens then. Inbetween, other care kids come and go from Skilly House, Zac behaves both badly and well and falls in love with a dog, Ira finds a letter from Glenda, a child at Skilly House many years ago and writes back, and Silas gets involved with the infamous Poll Tax protests. (As an off-topic aside, I can say with some pride that I never paid that rotten tax. And - sigh - give away that I am old enough to say that. Silas is my spirit animal, by the way.)

Little Bits of Sky is a truly, truly, truly lovely story. It's rather difficult to credit it as a debut novel because it is completely comfortable in its own skin from the first page to the last. It doesn't try too hard. It doesn't proselytise. It's just there, feeling deeply authentic and real. I believed in Ira and her straightforward narration contains layers of subtle truths about loss and dislocation but also about love and friendship and finding belonging in the most unexpected places. The supporting cast adds well-rounded characters throughout, from Zac, who is loving and infuriating in equal measure, through Jimmy, the poster child of angry looked after kids, and kindly Silas and Hortense, to Mrs Clanks, who isn't nearly as hard as her uncompromising exterior would have you believe.

Uplifting and heartwarming without ever being twee, this debut will find a place in the heart of readers of any age. It deserves to do well. I hope it does.

Other wonderful stories in which the looked after system plays a part include The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson and Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah .

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Buy Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant at


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