by Gill Lewis, published 2017
“I’m a coward. There, I’ve said said it now. I’m a coward. It’s true. Dad never actually said it out loud but it was always in his eyes.”
Every children’s book has its own audience, and while I don’t completely know which children will be drawn to this book, it is an important one. It is a book about protecting wildlife, and finding courage, as a young boy finds his own way that dramatically differs from generations of family values. It is a children’s book that honors the right to say “no more killing” innocent animals for sheer sport. And this is a children’s book that shows the transformation that comes from making mistakes and learning from them, rather than blindly repeating them.
The descriptions of the moors in England provide the setting for the book, which focuses on an old English custom of grouse hunting. While readers in the USA might not relate to the specific sport, you could substitute any hunting sport in which men (and women) have the hubris to think animals exist for our pleasure.
The book does not whitewash the realities of nature and animals and hunting, so it’s not for the very squeamish. But it is not a gory book, it is just an honest one. It is written as a sequel to another children’s book, Sky Hawk, but I didn’t feel I missed anything essential, nor was I drawn to find the earlier book. This one stands on its own. I hope some young brave boys find their way to this important piece of children’s literature. By the way, at the end of this review, I discovered that the book was written by the same author of Wild Wings, another really well-written ecological book.