David Almond will lead you into black dream-like places, but he will always bring you back again, reflecting on the pure magic of just being alive.
So it is with this book. Erin Law and her friends January Carr and Mouse Gullane are 'damaged' children, that is, they have lost their families and consequently they have lost part of themselves. For ever on the look out for the missing pieces and hanging on to the pieces they still have, they pass their time in a children's home where they plan their regular escapes.
This time they launch themselves off on a wildly bobbing and lurching raft which doesn't take them very far in distance but which deposits them on the sucking mud of the Black Middens which may as well be in another world. They encounter Grampa and Heaven Eyes who live a strangely ordered life in a derelict printing works on the river edge, avoiding all human contact. Heaven eyes is the strangest girl you are ever likely to meet. She has webbed fingers and speaks a confused, half-language. Who, exactly, is she? Grampa knows, but he's in no state to tell.
There's a lot of digging about in black slime in this story which surely symbolizes the children's search for the bits and pieces of their lives and what is really touching is how gently they collect and keep the pieces of Heaven Eyes's life for her to have when she is ready.
There's magic as well. Did Mouse find a saint in the slime? How did Grampa know there were saints in the slime? Did the saint come for Grampa? If it isn't a saint, what is it? Is it just the body of a drowned dock-side worker from many years ago? Did the children's imaginations run riot in the black night holding vigil over their dead?
This story is told by Erin herself and I was with her all the way as she roughly pushes aside the clueless social worker and conjures up her own mother for support in the worst moments. Both heart-stopping and soothing at the same time, I love the way David Almond writes.
Mollie, girl, age 13, from Cambridge, United Kingdom, on 17th January 2009. Rating: 10/10
This book is utterly magical, so much imaginatination and magic a brilliant book, I don't know how any one could say it was boring but prehaps yopu need to be older to really apresiate it. It was impossiable to put down and I finished it all in one day but I will read it again and again. an incrediable amzing imaginitive macical mysterios haunting dream like book that I will never forget!
Lids, girl, age 12, from Sevenoaks, United Kingdom, on 11th December 2008. Rating:
I thought this book was incredible. I read it with my year 7 class at school and everyone thought it was really good. My friend from my old school was adopted and he read this book and it reminded him of his family. He has a caring family who love him to bits though. I think this author is a very imaginative man. I would love to read another one of his books. If you just take the time to read it you really don't want to put it it down. It really is a brilliant book.
*Bailee*, girl, age 13, from Alberta, Canada, on 11th January 2007. Rating: 9/10
I loved this book! although there were some pretty boring parts i thought it was creative and touching David ALmond is a very, very creative writer
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If you haven't already read them, try these:
I recommend this one by Jonathan Stroud for its strange haunting quality:
Possibly for slightly younger readers, Alan Temperley has written an excellent story where fantasy meets reality:
If you are an older reader, you could have a look at this terrifying one by Mervyn Peake: