By Author / Illustrator
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Egmont UK Ltd
Paperback / softback
The brand new novel from the critically-acclaimed author of Snow Foal. A beautiful and heart-wrenching middle grade debut for kids aged 9 to 12, set in the beautiful wilds of a remote Scottish island. Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy, Tarka the Otter and Gill Lewis.
Luke hates his life. His dad is busy with a shiny replacement family and his mum has insisted they spend their holiday on a remote Scottish island.
Then Luke meets Meg, who lives with her grandfather in a boarded-up boat house on the beach. And when together they rescue an otter pup that they name Willow, a chink of light appears in Luke's dark and lonely days.
But danger lurks behind the beauty of Puffin Bay - and soon Luke must depend upon Willow for his very survival ...
Luke's summer holiday is in tatters. His father has left for a new family and his mother, wrestling with depression, has decided that a summer holiday on a remote Scottish island will be good for them both. Luke is torn between a sense of responsibility for his Mum and his own feelings of loss, rejection and loneliness.
Through boredom and lack of alternatives, he begins to spend time with Meg. Her family life seems even more unconventional than Luke's: home in a boathouse on the beach with boarded up windows, cared for by a grandfather who seems to spend half his time in the grip of troubling delusions. What has happened to her parents?
Both children are secretive, but the similarities stop there - until they find an orphaned otter pup and set about rescuing it.
The structure of Otter's Moon never feels forced and yet the most delicate symmetry links the three stories of lonely young, struggling to surmount difficulties that seem insurmountable. In the end, all three learn that trusting each other and working together is the only way to survive. And, as they do so, miraculously, spangles of hope begin to light the way forwards.
Susanna Bailey writes with subtlety that draws you straight into the first person narrative. Luke's bewilderment would resonate with any city child who prefers football to seagulls. And yet graceful descriptive passages are interwoven so deftly that they never jar with the more vernacular tone of the rest. Good for fans of Gill Lewis, Lisa Thompson or Michael Morpurgo.
As a class read in year 5 or 6, it would provide a natural entry to discussions of mental health issues, young carers and the damage human activity has done to the environment. It's also a great model for accomplished writing.
I enjoyed it so much I stayed up half the night to finish it. Invest!
304 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+