By Kit de Waal
There are so many reasons why you should head on down to your local library or bookseller and get your hands on this.
For one, it’s not your conventional first person narrative. Instead, the story is told by the nine (and then ten) year old Leon, in the third person, where the narrator is Leon’s mind and it’s his take on the events.
Secondly, the so simple sentences provide you with such honest, innocent and sometimes complicated emotions.
Thirdly, de Waal is outstanding. She doesn’t just write from a child’s point of view – using their descriptions, dialogue, ways of looking at the world – as a vehicle to gift you with the story, she goes deeper. She gives you a real child. The kind that make stupid and dangerous decisions. Not because they are bad, but because they are human and they haven’t experienced. Leon is immature, and that’s what he should be. He has also had to face a lot.
Furthermore, Leon is a glorious, thoughtful child. His intentions are so good and though his reading of situations may not be spot on, you’ll find yourself thinking about him and sometimes worrying, even when you’re doing the washing up and haven’t picked up the story since last night’s Book at Bedtime.
This story is so many things. It’s touchy; beautiful; upsetting; authentic. It explores loss and love. It’s sweet and unfair. It also explores intense love and desire to protect those closest to you.
And it’s not just Leon that will stay with you, but you’ll come into contact with (and if you’re anything like me will spend long moments thinking about), the others that Leon encounters. Like Tufty, Maureen, Jake’s new family…even The Zebra.
This is a powerful book – simply written, but by no means simple.