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Rook by Anthony McGowan


This is the second in a series of three books about a teenage boy and the problems he faces. In each case the story is softened by protagonist's Nicky's involvement with an animal.

It is published by Barrington Stoke, who specialize in producing texts for reluctant readers.  This may be described as a "high-low" or "hi-lo" – high concept, low reading age. This particular one is aimed at the young adult.

Several concessions are made to the reader. The text is formatted ragged right. This helps the less confident reader to keep their place. It is just 123 pages long and the chapters are quite short. It uses a simple font with an easy to read a and g.

It explores the teen  themes of  peer pressure, bullying, boy / girl relationships, school, “staglet-lit” – a little like chick lit but written for teen boys.

We meet the emotional closeness so often found in teen literature. The first person narrative enforces this.  We feel as if Nicky is our best mate and he is confiding in us. We also read of his close relationship to his dad, his brother Kenny who has learning difficulties and his dad's girlfriend, Jenny.

Throughout, Nicky behaves like an adolescent. He takes risks, travelling by bus without a ticket and facing up to bully Stanno.  He blushes easily.  He thinks one thing and says another.

Anthony McGowan captures Nicky's voice superbly.

Maybe this is why the text was short-listed for the 2018 Carnegie medal.

It  is suitable for Key Stage 3 / teens / age 10-13.             


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