“Mam, did you think George was,” I say, “a bit … weird?”
“Weird? Yes, I suppose so. But you kids are all a bit weird if you ask me. And to tell the truth, it’d be weird if you weren’t.”
When a new boy joins the class, everyone thinks he’s a bit strange, but he’s brilliant at football and loves crisps, and that’s all that matters to Dan and Maxie. However, the truth about George is stranger than anyone could have imagined … and more sinister, too. Can his new pals help him to become truly free?
As an adult reading this book you have to understand that it loses some of the magic that reading it as a child would bring. Its obvious from the cover that George is not a normal boy and I knew before reading what he was. Whereas as a 8 or 9 year old that wouldn’t have clicked instantly and would have had a bigger reveal.
However its not what George is that makes this book brilliant. Its the children’s reaction to learning what he is. About the fact that it doesn’t matter to them what he is. Because by that point, he’s their friend.
The book is all about being reflective. Thinking about what makes you, you. I loved how reflective Daniel was even before he met George. Talking about how weird it is going into school and following each others patterns day in day out. About how the children in the school are like sheep, or robots. And how the teachers all follow the same patterns. How school is like a jail – something I definitely related to as thats how I felt as a child. And how much better it would be to run free.
The friendship Daniel and his friends have is awesome, but it gets even better and even stronger once they find George and have the special day with him in Cogan’s Wood. The aftermath of that was beautiful and I also loved how the children reacted to it.
I can’t go through a review without talking about dialect. I’m from the North East originally so I read this in the accent it was intended to be read in with ease. The book is set in Newcastle, so there’s a lot of ‘aye’s and ‘mam’s in there and it felt so natural to me. however I can see how it would be more difficult for people who haven’t been exposed to the Geordie accent. With Byker not on tele anymore I can image that will be a lot of people further down south so it might be worth noting if you buy this for a kid and they ask why they speak differently! I wish I had books when I was little written in my local dialect though, it would have been ace!
Theres a strong sense of community in the book and to be honest it reminded me of when I was a kid. Me and my friends played in the woods and we went off for hours during the school holidays without our parents. You don’t get that as much these days and the sense of adventure it brings when reading is a beautiful thing. I hope it’ll encourage younger readers to explore and make stories of trees and woods up too.
Brand New Boy was published on 5th November by Walker Books. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review as part of the Brand New Boy Book Tour.