The Sky Over Rebecca - Matthew Fox
Winner of The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 There was a single trail of footprints, the first I’d seen all morning. They were fresh tracks, I saw, the edges of the impressions in the snow quite hard. Small feet. Like mine. Someone my age. Then they stopped. When mysterious footprints appear in the Stockholm snow, ten-year-old Kara must discover where they’ve come from – and who they belong to. They lead Kara to Rebecca, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, and her younger brother Samuel. Kara realises they are refugees – from another time, World War Two – and are trying to find their way home. The grief and loneliness that Rebecca and Samuel have endured is something Kara can relate to – feeling like you’re always on the outside looking in – and she finds herself compelled to help them. Through her eyes, we rediscover the magic that lies in the world around us, if only we have the courage to look for it. Kara is a heroine for modern times: fragile but fierce, in this utterly compelling story from a stellar new voice in children’s literature, Matthew Fox
I'm thrilled to have been asked to be part of the blogtour for this gripping tale combining thrilling adventure with historical fact, and to be able to share with you some of Matthew Fox's explanation about how he created the cast of characters in this wonderful story:
Matthew Fox – The Sky Over Rebecca Blog Tour – Building the Characters Building the Characters in The Sky Over Rebecca Strange things are happening in Stockholm. Ten year old Kara Lukas notices some mysterious footprints, appearing and disappearing in the snow – and a Snow Angel that seems to have materialised out of thin air. Nobody else notices these things – and the fact that Kara does tells us something about who she is. She’s observant, yes, but she’s also lonely. She’s on her own a lot of the time, down by the frozen lake, exploring the woods. She spends more time in nature (and at home, with books) than she does with people. She’s like me, when I was her age, with all my hopes and fears and worries. Although she’s a little bit braver than me, because she decides to follow these tracks. The footprints lead her to a girl called Rebecca, a refugee from another time, hiding out on an island in the middle of a frozen lake. And Rebecca is (sort of) Kara’s opposite: she’s strong, driven, and brave. Kara and Rebecca are fated twins, protagonist and antagonist, mirror images of each other – and destined to transform each other. Rebecca’s needs are primarily physical: she needs food, warmth, shelter. Kara’s are emotional: she needs friendship, purpose, courage. They need each other, and complete each other, and gradually they become more alike. Rebecca is the hero: she rescues Kara from loneliness, and teaches her to be brave. Usually, when I’m writing a first draft of a novel, the story comes first: the plot seems to tumble out in a great big feverish rush. But sometimes that’s as far as I get, because I don’t know who the characters are; even the most clockwork plot will feel arbitrary if it isn’t glued together by character. Thankfully, it was different with The Sky Over Rebecca: I knew who Kara was, and I could hear her voice, and I knew what Kara and Rebecca would say to each other when they met, and how they’d skate around each other. Then I built the other characters up in relation to them: Kara’s mother and her grandfather, Rebecca’s brother, and the bully. My favourite character is Kara’s grandfather, David – perhaps because he’s a gentle old man like my father, who had died shortly before I wrote The Sky Over Rebecca. David is also a bit like Prospero, in The Tempest – he seems to know more about Kara’s time-travelling adventures than she realises, and I wonder if he’s somewhere behind the scenes, helping to guide events. My favourite scene is the one in David’s house in Chapter Thirty-Seven. At one level it’s just two characters sitting across from each other at a kitchen table having a conversation. But if you’ve read the book, you’ll know there’s something else going on in this scene: something that helps us understand the strange things Kara is experiencing, and something we return to at the end. Perhaps Kara’s grandfather is right: we all become starlight when we die, and then we go on our way through the universe…
Thanks to Lucy and Hachette for having me on the tour.
Find out more from publisher, Hachette, at: www.hachette.co.uk/titles/matthew-fox/the-sky-over-rebecca/9781444964707/ or by following Hachette on Twitter as @HachetteKids
Find out more about author, Matthew Fox, at www.matthewfox.se or by following him on Twitter as @mattfoxwrites
Here he is introducing the book:
(Shared from Easons bookshop YouTube channel)
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram), April 2022. All opinions my own.