Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Quality Fiction Category

Book Title: Stonebird

Authors: Mike Revell

Publishers: Quercus Books

ISBN: 9781681445144

I'm not usually a fan of magical realism stories. However, I liked the way that this was written and it was very easy and quick to read. The story deals with many themes such as family and how they have to cope in difficult times. The Grandma has dementia and I thought that this was approached very sympathetically. It also deals with bullying which Liam found difficult, feeling unable to talk to his mother about it.

Liam has had to move house and schools so his family can help with his poorly grandma. Everything goes wrong; he is bullied at school, his mother cannot cope with grandmother’s worsening illness and his sister is playing truant from school. Liam finds himself alone and goes to the nearby churchyard where he meets a gargoyle that seems to come to life. Back at home, he finds a diary written by his grandmother during the war, when she was a girl, and discovers that they have something mysterious in common- the gargoyle!

Meanwhile, his teacher gets the class to tell stories, and Liam uses the events in the diaries as ideas for his own stories. But then strange things start to happen; some of his gargoyle stories seem to be coming true and his life begins to change.

The question is, did the gargoyle really help, or was it Liam’s imagination?

There are a lot of discussion points in the book, although many of them would perhaps be more suitable for older children- bullying, dementia, alcohol, depression, family, reality v. supernatural, and even the war.

I would say this would be aimed at top juniors/ lower secondary children.