I have been reviewing Barrington Stoke books this year so they can be used in Reading Matters reading partnerships. Crow Girl by Kate Cann is a tricky one to recommend for this purpose. It is great, life-affirming story, but the subject matter is maybe a little too sensitive to be explored with anyone else I think it is the perfect book to read on your own in a quiet corner.
Bullied, over-weight Lily finds new confidence by secretly befriending a bunch of mystical crows in her local woods. Lily once dabbled with being a goth and her relationship with the crows re-ignites this passion, and proves a new source of self-worth and confidence.
The story builds to a dramatic scene at a Halloween party at the house of the coolest kid in school. Lily wants this to be a turning point in her life and her mental and physical preparations are beautifully described, for example Lily knows party night is make or break for her; she is "a dark angel of risk".
The crows inspire Lily, but it is her own strength of character and some subtle interventions from family members that make the difference. Including the fitting of a bra with her Gran, one of the scenes I would feel very nervous about reading with a young person.
The story is deepened references to Celtic myths and a name-check for poet Ted Hughes. Lily's transformation is all about her attitude, in this instance, I did not mind the lack of illustrations.
So, a lovely book to recommend to a young person, most likely girls, to read for themselves.