Johnny has a lot to deal with: he and his little brother, Mojo, are still struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of their father; he’s had to move to a new house in a new neighbourhood; and the school bully just can’t seem to leave him alone.
After a strange encounter with a swan and the local bullies at the park, things start to happen to Johnny. Unusual things. Things he can’t tell anyone else about.
Help finally comes from a very unexpected source and Johnny begins to find the strength and self-belief to stand up to those who doubt him.
It’s an uplifting novel about bullying, childhood bereavement and, ultimately, learning to be yourself.
This beautifully written novel, covers a lot of important issues in a realistic but sensitive way. Sometimes, authors can shy away from difficult topics like childhood bereavement or bullying but Nikki Sheehan deals with these themes carefully and without being condescending to her readers.
The book reminded me a little of the brilliant film, Billy Elliot, with the ballet ‘Swan Lake’ playing a central role in both. Both stories also both take the lead characters on a voyage of self-discovery.
I would recommend this to mature year 5/6 readers or older. Extracts could also be well-used in PSHE lessons on bullying or bereavement.