Saturday, November 6, 2021

October, October by Katya Balen (illustrations by Angela Harding)


October lives in the woods with her father. They have a house and it even has central heating and freezers.  They get milk and eggs form a local farmer. Despite this certain measure of civilisation they do enjoy the wild.  October’s mother left long ago as she missed the city.  

October’s father has an accident one day. He falls from a tree, damaging his spine. October has to go and live with her mother.  She finds London difficult and for the first time she has to go to school. Yet she gradually becomes reconciled to school, makes friends with Yusuf, becomes a mud lark and gradually accepts that her mother cares for her.  She even begins to find some affection for her mother.

Her father does recover and he and October return to live in the woods. Now though she keeps contact with her mother and the friends she has made in London.  

At the beginning of the story October rescues a baby owl. Somewhat reluctantly her father helps her to care for it. When she moves to London the beast plan is to take her owl, Stig, to an owl sanctuary where she is further looked after and trained to be released into the wild. October accepts in the end that this is the best plan.

The text is quite literary and Katya Balen is very skilled in her use of language. It is 291 pages in blocked text in and adult font but double-spaced. There are a few monochrome illustrations.  It is written mainly in prose but there are some verses.  

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