I absolutely loved Katya Balen's first children's book, 'The Space We're In' and I've been dying to read 'October, October' for some time now. This is another wonderful story written from a first person child's perspective, containing vivid, wild and beautiful descriptions. It was a true joy to read.
October lives in the woods with her dad. She's accustomed to being part of nature, growing her own food, and only venturing to the local town once a year to buy essential clothes and other provisions. One autumn, when she's on the cusp of turning eleven, she rescues a baby owl, Stig and feeds it until it grows in strength and confidence.
But on October's eleventh birthday the woman who is her mother arrives to give her a present and her world changes dramatically. October ends up travelling to London, and initially really struggles to settle in. Everything here is the polar opposite to what she's used to in her home:
Christmas in the wood is
the fire fingers dancing in the grate
sticky home-made toffee
white snow snapping under my boots (...)
Christmas in London is
grey snow melting
a lone tree dressed up
its dying scent draining into the air (...)
She initially finds life in the city impossible to accept, but then she makes a great new friend at school, and finds a hobby that makes London a little easier to accept. But will October ever be able to merge her two worlds?
Katya Balen writes in a distinctive and beautiful style and her protagonist's voice is truly unique. A must read for any young readers who are fans of the wild.