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October, October - Katya Balen

I've seen lots of people praising this, so despite my December book-buying ban, this somehow fell in my basket on a visit to my local bookshop...oops! (But I'm very glad it did...)

Telling the story of October, forced to relocate from her 'wild' life in the woods to live with her mum in the city, it is stunningly written, and the descriptions, characters, plot and themes are just beautiful, lyrical, magical examples of the power of words to create a world in the mind of the reader...I was absolutely transported to the woods, experiences and situations alongside October throughout the book.

I was hooked by the theme of storytelling and objects that was threaded through the story itself; October's desire to tell stories about the treasures she finds on her searches in the woods and then the mud of the Thames told alongside the story of her finding herself and unravelling her own story.

The relationship between October and her mum was brilliantly developed...the visceral anger towards her, and then the gradual change brilliantly shown as October gets to grip with her new situation.

I loved the raw and emotional descriptions of unfamiliar experiences like school, Mars bars and supermarkets through October's eyes, and the friendship and relationship with Yusuf and Kate who helped her manage these new experiences.

The metaphor of Stig, a baby owl who October rescues, and who has also lost parents and needs to adapt, accept, then be returned to the wild, is also beautifully woven into the tale alongside October's own desire to be free, and I adored the wonderful illustrations throughout the book from Angela Harding.

A wonderful book. I had already more or less decided my 'Top Ten' books of the year for a blog post, but this has well and truly thrown a cat amongst the pigeons ( or owls!!)

Katy Balen is on Twitter as @katyabalen

Watch her talk about the book here:

October, October is published by Bloomsbury, on Twitter as @KidsBloomsbury

Find out more about the book or order it at their website,

Review by Rich Simpson (Twitter and Instagram: @richreadalot) December 2020

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