To join in, all you need to do is:
- Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
- Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
- Write three words to describe the book.
- Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.
Bloom by Nicola Skinner, cover art by Flavia Sorrentino, published by Harper Collins, audiobook read by Lauren Chandler
Nicola Skinner is one of my favourite ‘new’ voices in children’s books. I say new pretty loosely, as Bloom was originally published in April 2019, nearly two years ago, and we’ve since had two more gems from her – most recently, Starboard, which I’ve just received and cannot wait to start!
In between the two came Storm last year (you can read my review of that here) Ever since reading that I’ve been dying to read Bloom but never seemed to manage it amongst the deluge of new releases! Luckily I found it was available on audiobook so I’ve listened to it instead (though of course, I’ve still ordered the hardback to complete my set of stunning Flavia Sorrentino covers!) and it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped!
Sorrel Fallowfield (can we just pause before we’ve begun to give a nod to the names, of both people and places, in this – from Sorrel to Little Sterilis, from Grittysnits to Miss Mossheart… they’re perfectly picked! Though as an honorary Manc, Strangeways garden centre gave me a moment!)
Anyway, Sorrel is good. With a capital G. She’s known for it and wouldn’t dream of putting a foot wrong – head girl with enough behaviour certificates to sink a ship, she’s a shoo-in for the school’s competition to find the best behaved child. Which is lucky as all she wants is to make her mum happy and that starts with the prize holiday.
Unfortunately, things don’t go quite to plan. When she finds a packet of Surprising Seeds promising to give her what she needs in her yard, she and best friend Neena plant them…in a rather unusual way and that is where the town’s ‘trouble’ begins.
Soon, Scalp Sprout is spreading through Little Sterilis, with the most imaginative and characteristically-approrioriate plants growing from everyone’s heads! It sounds barmy but it’s brilliant!
This is a sharp, clever and incredibly warm and funny look at the power of nature, the importance of green spaces and the world we’re living in in which they’re disappearing fast, in which we’re spending increasing amounts of time indoors in which health & safety, exams and neatness are prioritised over safe risks, exploration and experiencing things first hand.
As I’ve come to expect from Nicola Skinner, Bloom takes a seemingly out-there, impossible and fanciful idea and depicts it in such a believable, tangible and important way. The way the outlandish and funny sits comfortably alongside emotional moments and stark realities works perfectly.
The warnings that open and close the book are brilliant too!
With characters I rooted for (geddit?!), timely and important themes to make you think, plenty of warmth and humour and a Dahl-esque kind of clever craziness that I love, Nicola Skinner is one of the most original and unique voices in kid’s publishing today.
My favourite quote from page 12:
“A gloomy glumness. A grumpy grimness. A grimy greyness. Cheery Cottage always felt cross and unhappy about something, and there was nothing this mood didn’t infect. It inched into everything, from the saggy sofa in the lounge, to the droopy fake fern in the hallway, which always looked as if it was dying of thirst, even though it was plastic.”
This book in three words:
Green vs Grey