Jackdaw Summer
David Almond




Every summer Liam and Max roam the wild countryside of Northumberland; but this year things are different. One hot summer's day a jackdaw leads the two boys into an ancient farmhouse where they find a baby, wrapped in a blanket, with a scribbled note pinned to it: PLESE LOOK AFTER HER RITE. THIS IS A CHILDE OF GOD.

And so begins Jackdaw Summer. A summer when friendships are tested. A summer when lines between good and bad are blurred. A summer that Liam will never forget.

"a writer of subtle, page-turning and daring exactness." (Times Educational Supplement)

"David Almond is a fine writer, one of the very finest we have. He is simply incapable of writing a bad sentence." (Michael Morpurgo)

"Another brilliant novel from a master storyteller." (Carousel)
Ankita, from Newcastle Under Lyme School

When, one day in the summer, friends Liam and Max find an abandoned baby, their lives change forever. Their friendship is tested as they meet new people, discover secrets and explore a whole new world.

 

When I read the blurb, I had high expectations of Jackdaw Summer. The reason why I was interested in this book was because of the intriguing points raised in the blurb, and I expected the questions to be answered as the story went on. The opening of the book was encouraging, but as the book went on, it got more childish. I feel that half of the chapters in this book were unnecessary, and did not add to the story at all. At the end of the book, I realized that not all of the questions were answered, and the author left it as a cliff-hanger ending. I did not like this book, and would not really recommend it to anyone.

Annabel, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

Liam lives with tolerant and self-obsessed parents (a writer and an author) in a wild part of Northumberland (where the author now lives and for which he has an obvious love and derives inspiration).  He is growing up with the other boys around him in surprising and sometimes violent ways.  During the long hot summer holidays, he and his friends (mostly boys) are given a lot of freedom and very little adult supervision as they play and sleep outside.  Liamfinds himself growing apart from his close friend Max, who is a “good boy” and developing similarities to Gordon Natrass whom he doesn't much admire but Liam gets a kick from playing his daredevil games.

 

On the same day, Liam and Max find both a knife and an abandoned baby girl.  The baby girl, Alison, causes a stir in the news, and when she isn't claimed she is fostered - which is how Liam meets the other 2 influential characters in the story – Crystal and Oliver/Henry who are part of Alison's foster family.  Crystal is an intense, orphaned, sole survivor of a fire and Oliver is an asylum seeker from Liberia where he saw his family murdered in the civil conflict. When Oliver's asylum status is questioned, he and Crystal run away.  Liam is certain they will come to find him and the end of the story takes place with all the main characters in a cave in the Northumberland wilds.  The ending feels very dramatic and Oliver isn't who he claims at first to be.

 

This book is about the real world: about a boy Liam growing up and dealing with adolescence and violent hormone-driven impulses, influenced by his friends.  But it is also about the spiritual world where jackdaws “lead” you to find things, the idea of “imprinting”, and deprived children in care homes re-living their better-reincarnated lives in dreams. There is a harsh edge to it too, in the characters Oliver/Henry who is a child soldier indoctrinated by adults to fight and kill; Crystal who cuts herself to stop any foster carers loving her too much; and Natrass with his violent “art” installations and dangerous games.  But at the heart of the book is a beautiful baby girl untouched by any of these events whose origin remains unknown but seems like a blessing on them all.

Charley, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

This story didn’t really do it for me.  I don’t really like the way it is written as it is in the present tense which took a while to get used to. 

 

The storyline wasn’t bad but it felt rushed and it had some missing details.  I also feel the plot wasn’t complex enough.  The blurb says: “will change his life forever”; but at the end it all seems to be nicely resolved and everything reverts back to normal.  

Charlotte, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Jackdaw Summer is an intriguing and carefully planned novel which combines all the aspects of mystery, deceit, friendship, and malice into one book.

 

It mainly trails the story of Liam Lynch, a writer’s son, who follows a jackdaw that leads him to a dilapidated and mysterious place. As if it was a sign or good omen, it leads him to find an abandoned baby girl. But as the story unravels, conspiracies begin to build up about who the bird was following and why the baby was abandoned.

 

Another main character is Gordon Natrass, a friend of Liam’s when they were younger. Now a rude and ruthless teen with a dangerous sense of humour, he plays violent games and persuades Liam to get involved. In a strange friendship with Gordon, he is lured into becoming a different person altogether.

 

In the contrast of personalities, there are two sub-main characters: Crystal and Oliver. Oliver is a refugee from Liberia who has seen the unthinkable and experienced the terrors of war first hand. He is meek but strong headed, and enjoys writing stories. Crystal has lived in children’s homes all her life as her family died in a house fire.  She soon warms to Liam and forms a strong friendship. [Despite] a minor glitch, their friendship is laced with lies and secrets which are yet to be uncovered until the very end.

 

One of the most interesting points about the book is how the mystery is apparent throughout the whole story. Whether the reader is oblivious to this or not, it definitely re-captures their attention when the puzzle is solved. Information and clues as to the ending are in almost every chapter, so readers should keep their eyes open!

 

Jackdaw Summer is one of my favourite books as its paragraphs are phrased in a way that is suitable for all readers, but also has certain words in which the less confident reader may need a dictionary! It has a tense ending which builds up to the almost-unexpected, but is a sigh of relief for those who enjoy tissue-box-free endings!

Charlotte, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Jackdaw Summer is an intriguing and carefully planned novel which combines all the aspects of mystery, deceit, friendship, and malice into one book.

 

It mainly trails the story of Liam Lynch, a writer’s son, who follows a jackdaw that leads him to a dilapidated and mysterious place. As if it was a sign or good omen, it leads him to find an abandoned baby girl. Bur as the story unravels, conspiracies begin to build up about who the bird was following and why the baby was abandoned.

 

Another main character is Gordon Natrass, a friend of Liam’s when they were younger. Now a rude and ruthless teen with a dangerous sense of humour, he plays violent games and persuades Liam to get involved. In a strange friendship with Gordon, he is lured into becoming a different person altogether.

 

In the contrast of personalities, there are two sub-main characters: Crystal and Oliver. Oliver is a refugee from Liberia who has seen the unthinkable and experienced the terrors of war first hand. He is meek but strong headed, and enjoys writing stories. Crystal has lived in children’s homes all her life as her family died in a house fire.  She soon warms to Liam and forms a strong friendship. Although a minor glitch, their friendship is laced with lies and secrets which are yet to be uncovered until the very end.

 

One of the most interesting points about the book is how the mystery is apparent throughout the whole story. Whether the reader is oblivious to this or not, it definitely re-captures their attention when the puzzle is solved. Information and clues as to the ending are in almost every chapter, so readers should keep their eyes open!

 

Jackdaw Summer is one of my favourite books as its paragraphs are phrased in a way that is suitable for all readers, but also has certain words for which the less-confident reader may need a dictionary! It has a tense ending which builds up to the almost-unexpected, but is a sigh of relief for those who enjoy tissue-box free endings!

Daniel, from University College School London

I picked up Jackdaw Summer towards the end of August, in the last vestige of the summer holidays. I was ready for something light and hopeful, as the bright title would suggest.

 

I could not have been more wrong, and no pathetic fallacy could have illustrated this in contradiction with the heat outside. The book ‘starts and ends with a knife’ was the first sign that this was going to be no ordinary piece of children’s literature.  The ongoing theme of unsettling undertones and imagery starts from the first sentence and is unrelentingly brilliant to the last word. This is further emphasised by the fact that the book is written in the present tense, driving you further into the unexpected, experiencing the story alongside the narrator.

 

There is clearly quite a resonating message throughout the entire book, which, through the author’s subtlety is complex and open to subjective interpretation: from awakening to the malevolence in the world to growing up and the need to be ‘imprinted’ by or for benevolence or malice.

 

The characters themselves are psychological labyrinths, from the sadistic advocate Gordon Nattrass, Liam’s nemesis throughout the book, to the complex trials and tribulations of Oliver, an asylum seeker from Liberia. Each one masterfully crafted to elaborate on the half-masked arguments. Finally there is Liam, who faces the problems of the life the author has made for him and to enable him to mature and learn

 

These disconcerting themes certainly attract the reader’s attention and aid in the construction of what is a story that requires thought both during and after reading.

 

Thus, I would recommend it to readers of 12-13 years old because it would seem that cognitive maturity and ability to deal with death and pain is certainly a pre-requisite for reading this book, which was thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking.

Danielle, from St James Catholic High School

Jackdaw Summer is about a boy called Liam who finds an abandoned baby with his best friend Max. This leads them on a very eventful adventure which also puts their friendship to the test, meeting new and inspirational people. The thing I liked most about this story was that it had short chapters and was easy to understand. David Almond’s good use of adjectives helped me understand the way the characters felt.

 

A really interesting book, recommended for anyone between the ages of 8 and 13.

Ed, from Sturminster Newton High School, Dorset

This book was about a boy, Liam, who lives a free life in the countryside without a care in the world. When not in school, he usually will be out in the surrounding land living like a wild child. When he and his friend follow the jackdaw and find an abandoned baby with a note,”This is a childe of God,” his summer is changed completely.

 

I really enjoyed this book as it was not complicated and had a great storyline and an unreal but believable plot (if that makes sense). The way the baby is found mysteriously gives a sense of adventure but also a sense of menace. It was easy to follow and the different parts flowed into each other well. The part that I most enjoyed was when Oliver was telling his story and Natrass being changed. His story was moving and gave me a very good mental image of it.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and would recommend it. I give it 9/10.

Elliot, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer is the story of a boy named Liam who gets tangled up in a spider’s web of lies, love, loss, sorrow and danger.

 

Living in the countryside, Liam, when not in school, adopts the general lifestyle of going out to play and coming home scraped and bruised. To many parents this is always just innocent children having innocent fun – and although most of the time it is, there is always going to be an air of malevolence attached to this type of freedom. This malevolence has quite a presence in Liam’s adventures; it comes in the form of knives, fights, deadly “games” and an abandoned baby.

 

When Liam chooses to follow the Jackdaw, and finds the abandoned baby, it leads to two new people, who Liam feels quite passionate for. This passion is the key that unlocks the real adventure.

 

Almond’s writing is like something I have never seen before. He has incorporated a child’s way of speaking into his writing to the extent that I have no trouble imagining it being someone my age. If I were to read some of the extracts from the book, without knowing who the author was, I would have guessed at him being my age or a bit younger.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone. Despite the fact it is considered to be a young person’s read, I would not hesitate to recommend it to an adult. The hardships some of the characters have to face have quite a relevance to what is going on in some parts of the world today. Also, the way people treat them is also relevant to today. Personally, I believe that even if you are not interested in the storyline, the contemporary relevance is enough of a cause to read this book.

 

Evelyn, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

Liam is a typical boy who likes to dig holes and play rough.  Until, one day, Liam and his friend follow a tame jackdaw to a deserted house, where they find an abandoned baby.  The two boys take the little one home, and then she is put into the foster care system and named Alison.

 

When Liam visits Alison with his parents he meets Crystal, a fostered teenager.  Liam's mother decides to adopt Alison, as she can't bear to let her go.  All is well until, one day, Crystal and her boyfriend Oliver turn up unannounced.  Liam then makes the on-the-spot decision to run away with them.

 

One night, Liam's former friend turns up with a camera whilst the three of them are around a fire.  Oliver grabs a knife and threatens him, and says if he doesn't listen to every word of his tale that he will slit his throat.  After a while Liam grabs another knife and...

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book because within it were heartfelt tales and tested loyalties.  I couldn't put it down and I would thoroughly recommend it.  4/5

 

Greg, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer by David Almond is set in the Northumberland countryside in a small village where Liam Lynch lives. He has broken up from school and does not know quite what this heat-wave summer will have in-store for him. It begins with Liam and his friend, Max, following a jackdaw which leads them to a homeless baby near an old farm. Little does he know how this baby will impact his life. They wonder how the baby got there. Was it the strange woman in the red hat who left it there with the message ‘PLEASE LOOK AFTER HER RITE. THIS IS A CHILDE OF GOD’, or was it the funny man in the shadows?

 

Eventually, the little girl, who is named Alison, is adopted by Liam’s parents but first goes to a foster home where Liam meets two new characters, Crystal and Oliver.  Liam runs away with Crystal and Oliver but only after adventures in the gallery between Liam’s Mum who is an artist and Natrass who is a “friend” and produces very gruesome art that is not to Liam’s Mum’s taste.

 

My favourite character in the book is Natrass as he gives some excitement into this book with his deranged mind of poisonous snakes and blood and gore. With Natrass you can never tell what he is going to do next. On the other hand my least favourite character is Liam: I would really like to see more action and emotion from him as he is meant to be having a “summer he will never forget”.

 

I do not like this book because it doesn’t really have enough excitement happening in it. There is not enough adventure in it and I think that David Almond could have made a much more exhilarating book rather than the dull one he has done.

 

Overall David Almond has not written a stunner of a book but it is not awful. I think that he really did not get the most he could out of it. I would rate it around a six out of ten. I would probably recommend it to friends as I think that it would suit other people’s tastes better.

Ishan, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer is set in the era of Tony Blair.  It is about a boy known as Lynch.  The protagonist is a slightly weird but very independent child who takes after his dad and is very rarely seen in his own school.  I found that this character spoke very creatively which may have reflected on his father’s job as an author. I found this character a bit weird. He was rather savage and possessed very little impact on the overall story line. He only found the baby. 

 

I honestly thought this book was rubbish and shouldn’t have been published. It must have been an “Oh-its-good-ole-David-lets-just-publish-him-anyway!” book. For me this book didn’t develop its characters nor the story and nor the plot. The characters were fairly useless especially Crystal and the only purpose Oliver/Michael had was to show you the harshness of the country described. The blurb hypes the whole thing up too much and the reader is waiting for “the act of violence” which is a COMPLETE LETDOWN. I felt this was one of Almond’s worst books to date.

 

There was no romance between Lynch and Crystal either which I found slightly awkward. I also thought Crystal was the younger version of a suicidal slut. She kissed Liam and Michael both a few times on the lips and is slightly freaky in terms of why she cuts herself. 

 

Overall I found this book slightly staccato and nothing major actually happens. The character of Natrass was very savage and inhumane whereas Liam’s best friend is the epitome of what a good mature average child is. Almond probably did this to contrast Liam and his Bessie.

 

Izzy, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

This story is about a boy named Liam Lynch and how he and his best friend Max are led through the Northumberland countryside to discover an abandoned baby near an old farm. On their way they spot a woman in a red cap in the distance; they wish they’d taken more notice. They find the baby with a note saying, ‘PLEASE LOOK AFTER HER RITE. THIS IS A CHILDE OF GOD.’ They see a figure of a man in the shadows by a barn and wonder how the baby got to be there.

 

David Almond is a very talented writer using simple words to tell a very complex story. Almond starts the book in first person and then switches to third person, which creates a strong impact.

 

Liam and Max take the baby back to Liam’s home where his Father is led to believe that the man in the shadows has imprinted the jackdaw. This means that when the man may have seen the birth of the child the jackdaw now has the thought of the man being its Mother and keeps flying to him. However, David Almond does not give this away quickly. Liam’s family adopt the child and name her Alison. They promise to care for her well.

 

Whilst going through the process of adoption Liam meets two extraordinary foster children, Oliver, the child soldier from Liberia, and Crystal, the wild girl moving from home to home.

 

David Almond has written this book showing the shocking mystery behind the calm countryside. Whether it’s the self-harming foster child, stories of child soldiers, childish games of animal cruelty or just sick videos, David Almond has got it all in.

 

Liam’s Mum is an artist and she takes an interest in his wild body. She takes pictures of his scarred and scraped skin and puts them in a gallery. Unfortunately, the boy he hates, Natrass, has decided art is his thing too and decides to make mock versions of horror videos on the internet. He posts them in the same gallery as Liam’s Mother, causing her pieces to be moved.

 

Liam, Crystal and Oliver run away to a special hideout... Overall this book was a thoroughly good read. 

Julia, from St James Catholic High School

Every summer Liam and Max roam the countryside of Northumberland. But this year it will not be the same as other summers. This year it will be a summer of questions, a summer which Liam Lynch will definitely not forget.

 

The story begins with a knife and ends with a knife. A knife Liam finds deep inside the ground.

 

We then follow Liam and his curiosity leading him to follow a jackdaw which leads them to an ancient farmhouse and an abandoned baby. But is it an ordinary baby? To Liam it is not because with the baby comes the meeting with foster children Crystal and Oliver.

 

These two foster children have a history that would scare even an adult - Oliver, a teenage boy from Liberia, has gone through a terrible war. Crystal and Oliver decide to run away to Newcastle to find a place with Liam to hide. But they are found by Natrass, a boy Liam wants to kill. But why does Liam hate Natrass? Does he succeed in killing him and why was Oliver running away in the first place?

 

I would recommend this book for children aged 12-15 as it is quite a lot of literature to get through.

Juliet, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

Jackdaw Summer is a compelling read. It is a multi-layered, thought-provoking novel. The characters are stories within themselves and their behaviour opens your eyes to the environment in which some children are raised.

 

Set in the recent past, in countryside near Newcastle, Liam, who narrates the story, discovers (with the help of a jackdaw) a baby. Beside her a note reads: “PLESE LOOK AFTER HER RITE. THIS IS A CHILDE OF GOD.”

 

The summer with Liam, Max, his family and the in-depth characters of Crystal and Oliver is just a snapshot into their complex lives.

 

David Almond writes with subtlety, creating a “simple” story, but as you read closer, powerful issues are revealed. In the same way, the story is not over-dramatic but yet still entices you in. Overall, I enjoyed it; although a little slow paced, I thought David Almond’s style of writing really gave it an edge.

Karolina, from St James Catholic High School

When I first got this book and read the comments on the back cover I was delighted, and it really did turn out to be “a wonderful piece of writing”.

 

The book is about a boy called Liam who follows a jackdaw and his life changes. That was my favourite part of the book because I knew right then that something was going to happen to him.

 

I could relate to the main characters, in particular Liam’s Mum and Max. I also liked the mysterious hiker.

 

Overall a good piece of writing 

Margaret, from St Mary's School Cambridge

Jackdaw Summer is a moving book, packed with emotion, lies, truth, drama and more. It’s almost impossible to put the book down. I fell deeper and deeper into the story, my grip tightening until the last full stop. It’s not happy or complex, nor happy or sad. The story is twisted and so is the truth and lies that are tangled within it.

Michelle, from St James Catholic High School

Liam and his best friend were wild kids in the past, when they dug for treasure and promised themselves that if war came they would not separate, and keep together.

 

Liam and Max were both in the garden one day when they dug out an old knife. Liam was proud of his discovery but his other discovery seemed to upset him - that Max seemed to grow out of the mood of finding treasure and spending their time hunting.

 

As a jackdaw flies above their heads croaking and singing, Max and Liam start to get curious about how long the jackdaw seemed to stay there. They follow it through the fields of Northumberland to an ancient farmhouse and find an abandoned baby. The baby goes to a foster house where Liam meets two young people, Oliver and Crystal. They both have a history hard to believe through human ears.

 

Oliver is a young teenage boy from Liberia; he lived through a war where they slaughtered his whole family.  Oliver and Crystal decide to run away to Newcastle, Liam goes with them hoping for an adventure. But will something unexpected block their way? Natrass, a friend of Liam who discovered adventures with him, was suddenly his enemy. Find out what happens then - it’s a book full of adventure and war, a book I recommend for 12-14 years old. I really enjoyed this book.

Oliver, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer is set in recent times - probably around 2003-2004 - during the times of George Bush and Tony Blair and the Iraq war, and is about a teenage boy called Liam and his best friend Max.  Liam and Max are led into the wild countryside of Northumberland, where they used to play, to an abandoned ancient farmhouse where they find a young baby, a note which reads: “plese look after her rite. This is a childe of god”, and a jar of money which contains notes and coins from the past and present.

 

They take the baby back to Liam’s house where they call the police and the baby is taken from them into a care home. The presenter of a programme, “The Chronicle”, phones Liam’s family up and requests an interview with Liam and Max. The programme is aired and the news of the missing child is on the news. But after a few weeks the story fades, and new stories about a journalist being captured and an old war veteran dying make the front page...

 

The story also has a villain called Nattrass, who was Liam’s best friend until he met Max. Nattrass is hated by Liam and Max, because of his sick mind and his lust to kill and bully others, which he doesn’t know to begin with but he soon finds out...

 

During the summer with the jackdaw, Liam finds everyone else is growing up when he doesn’t want to.

  

The book is set in two parts titled ‘Then’ and ‘Now’. Most of the book is in the ‘then’ section of the book and is based on the past but written in the present tense.

 

To sum it up in a sentence: the book is refugees, bullies with knives, wild animals, growing up and adventure. I rate the book 5/10 because although it is an interesting story it is a bit hard to follow to start off with, and far-fetched.  

 

 

 

Olivia, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

During Jackdaw Summer, Liam and his friend Max discover an abandoned baby with a pot of coins. After following a jackdaw to it, and noticing a person nearby (maybe a parent, who’s imprinted the jackdaw and made it take the boys to the babies), they take it home and tell the police. No one claims the baby, so it goes to an adoption home. The boys can only imagine where the baby’s from.

 

Liam’s father is a story writer, who decides to write a story about the baby, making up the unknown bits, while his mother is a photographer, who takes pictures of parts of her damaged skin. When they visit the baby, Alison, they decide to adopt it; and Liam makes two new friends, Oliver and Crystal, who both have their own stories of being adopted as well. Meanwhile throughout the book Liam has an enemy who used to be his best friend - called Nattrass - who has a strange hobby of taking pictures and videos of bad things happening... I found this to be an interesting and unusual story.

 

Liam, who is the main character, isn’t described in that much detail but you still get a feel for what he’s like... You find that Liam isn’t the perfect person and can get into fights, and be against people. I feel that maybe Almond could have described the way Liam feels at some points, as you find it hard sometimes to understand his feelings.

 

The book’s in the first person, which means that you follow Liam around, and not anyone else. This has its up-sides, as you get to find out what’s happening with Liam all the time - what he finds out and sees - rather than following other characters. But sometimes you want to know what’s happened to other characters…

 

Overall I found it was a good-ish book, I did have trouble putting it down as I wanted to know what happened next, but I felt that maybe there could have been more of a story and more happening during the book. Which is why I was slightly disappointed. Also I found it slightly hard to recall what had happened in the book after reading it, as it didn’t really stand out that much. Other than this it was a good book, maybe lacking a bit more description, but you shouldn’t be too fussy.

 

It is a good book that you could probably enjoy. I would recommend it to some people who like this sort of story.

Phoebe, from St Mary's School Cambridge

From the moment Liam and his friend Max follow the cries of the jackdaw, that lead them to the abandoned baby, their lives twist and change around them. Liam is a wild boy, longing for adventure and excitement, whilst Max is quiet and normal, looking forward to a normal life and to raising a family. Their friendship is put to the test, contained inside a wild, exciting and strangely unsettling story with several spellbinding characters.

 

I found this book thrilling: it grips like a vice and the words stay in your head hours after you’ve finished reading.

Raphael, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer is definitely not my favourite book and does not come anywhere near to it. It is my least favourite book in this year’s weRead competition. The only reason I kept reading it after the second chapter is because I knew I was to write a book review on it.

 

However, three quarters of the way through the book I liked it a tiny bit more. Still I felt it was poorly written and had a bad story line. It is about a boy who finds a baby and tells the police. Because if this one insignificant event everyone falls in love with him. He meets two people called Oliver and Chrystal, who have both been adopted, Oliver wants to go home and they set out together. Bringing Liam with them. I prefer their story to Liam’s.

 

The boy called Liam Lynch is nearly always with his best friend Max. Every now and then their old friend, now enemy, pops up. His name is Nattrass and in my mind Almond has put him in the book to show the other side to war, and to life. I think Almond has made a very poor attempt at this; Nattrass to me just seems like someone who is out of place and should not be there.

 

I would only recommend this book to someone who has nothing better to read. I immensely disliked it and would never read it again.

 

Rory, from University College School London

Jackdaw Summer starts at the beginning of the summer holidays, when a boy named Liam living in a Scottish town finds an old knife; this knife proves to be nothing more than a companion to him when he starts to plummet into wildness. Then a jackdaw starts crowing at Liam and his friend, they follow it and end up finding a baby. The baby is sent off to another family and that is where Liam meets a girl named Crystal and a black boy named Oliver. With Liam's friend, Max, growing up so fast, these two are good friends for him, but Liam's worst enemy - Gordon Natrass - tries to wreck his life and is constantly trailing and spying on him.

 

I thought it was an enjoyable book, it really showed me that an adventure doesn't have to take the reader all over the world. An easy-reading and quite addictive, nice, lazy-Sunday type of book.

Samantha, from St James Catholic High School

Last year I read and enjoyed David Almond’s Skellig and was delighted to see Jackdaw Summer on the weRead list. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. I was immediately entranced by the jackdaw leading the two children to a river and to an abandoned child lying in a basket.

 

David Almond’s quote from William Blake, “Into a dangerous world I leapt, helpless, naked and piping loud” hints to us that all is not going to be well in this tale.

 

In the book I found it fascinating that one of the children was very cynical of the idea of a pruning knife being treasure whilst the other was very excited and imagined it to be a Roman Sword.

 

I thought Skellig was great but Jackdaw Summer, a story of hate and love, of war and peace, was even better.

Seeta, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

One hot summer day Liam follows the Jackdaw and his view of the world is changed forever…This leads to questions and surprising revelations: a wild boy who doesn’t want to grow up, and a lost baby. Liam tries to tell the difference between good and bad, real and unreal, and tries to understand what it means to be ‘normal’. 

 

I think that the book makes many points throughout the story. The main theme is that the world isn’t just good or bad and there are some ugly ideas, people and concepts in it. For example, there is a chapter when Liam and his parents go to an ‘art’ exhibition and there were some gruesome videos such as a pig’s head being sawn off. These videos show the darker side of humanity, or the truth. However, they don’t show the beautiful aspects of the world that can be the truth as well.

 

I thought that the book used good descriptions, such as ‘the fire simmers, crackles, creaks’ and ‘a great jagged slab of red’, and well-chosen words which fitted into the story. The sentences were of varying length, but most were quite short. I thought that it was a bit like a monologue in some places, like when Liam is thinking about when he was little. The book is written in genuine first person, the words are written as if Liam is just thinking of them or experiencing what is happening. The way some parts of the story were written made them seem a bit vague, like a dream, and others seemed more real.

 

Jackdaw Summer is a story that makes you think and question and unlock a different view of the world. I would recommend this book to people who want a more thought-provoking read - but not to younger readers, as some elements of the book are not suitable for them. This is a mystery and adventure book. I enjoyed the story and couldn’t predict what would come next. I originally thought that I wouldn’t like the story but I was proved wrong.

 

My favourite quotes: ‘We can imagine anything’  and ‘If you can imagine doing something, then you can’. 

Sophia, from St James Catholic High School

Jackdaw Summer was a book I found interesting, in more ways than one. When you start reading the first page you will know straight away that there is an adventure waiting to happen.

 

The first way that the book was interesting for me was the fact that right from the beginning it went straight into action, when a knife is found. Then the young characters follow a jackdaw that leads them to a dark spooky cave. As they explore the cave they spot a moses basket, with a baby inside.

 

There were many things in the book that I liked, however there were also things I did not like - such as the way the author forgets about the jackdaw and does not mention it again till half way through the book.

 

I would recommend this book to someone who loves a good mystery book full of adventure. As soon as I’d picked up the book I could not put it down and I hope it has the same impact on whoever starts to read it.

 

I would give this book 9/10 because of the reasons I have given.

Steffy, from St James Catholic High School

Jackdaw Summer is the story of a boy named Liam who lives in Northumberland. Liam’s curiosity and wild nature finds him following a jackdaw, whereupon he discovers an abandoned and helpless baby girl.

 

The mystery of this baby girl was big news, for a while, but as the nation loses interest in the story the little girl is put into foster care and Liam and his family go to visit her.

 

Liam meets two very interesting foster children living in the same family who have big stories to tell. All of a sudden a large cloud of fate looms over Liam’s head. Liam’s curiosity and wild nature finds him following a Jackdaw, finding a baby and throughout our protagonist is wild, daring and everything a child should be.

Thulashika, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Once I had seen the author’s name on this novel before beginning to read, I just knew this novel was going to be simply fantastic. David Almond has always been one of my favourite children’s writers as his novels are endlessly inventive. I read the award-winning book Skellig by the same author when I was in year seven and I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. It was based on a peculiar human-like creature with wings as this supports David Almond’s imaginative ways.

 

Jackdaw Summer was written in a style completely different to any of the other books I have written about above, or ever read before, as it was formed in a different tense.

‘It starts and ends with the knife. I find it in the garden’. As you can see, it sounds very different to other novels, as the ordinary novels I often read would have been set in the past, ‘It started and ended with the knife. I found it in the garden’. However, the original phrase sounds as if the story is happening whilst we are reading, which in my opinion is strangely quite attractive.

 

One of the best things I admired about this book was the blurb:

‘A long hot summer. A wild boy. An abandoned baby. An act of violence.’

This blurb is very effective as these four phrases have nothing in common, yet they do in the novel. It makes the audience curious of what the novel is really about. I also find it interesting that the title of the novel is not named after any of the above mentioned but named after a bird.

 

This novel is definitely aimed towards an audience who are interested in adventurous stories but also strange stories.

 

Vickie, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

I really liked this book.  My favourite part was when the two boys found the baby in the field led by the jackdaw.  I would give this book at rating of 5/5 because it had a good storyline.  I would also love to read more of David Almond's books because they are so exciting and thrilling.  The age that I think this book would be most suitable for is 13-18.  I would definitely recommend it.

Zoe, from The Thomas Hardye School Dorchester

I was drawn to the book by the blurb, like most books, but this one stood out most to me because of all the many questions it made me ask. It’s about a boy called Liam, who one day gets led by a jackdaw to a baby! Immediately you start asking “where did it come from? Why was it there?” Liam takes the baby home and from there it goes straight into a foster home where two other characters start linking up different parts of the story

 

If there was one drawback to the novel it is that fact that Almond builds the tension so well it leaves you hanging on with so many questions that you are dying to know the answer to.