A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

A Song for Ella Grey

Written by David Almond

13+ readers   All Shortlists and Winners   YA readers   UKLA 2016   
Download an extract Add to wishlist Share this book

The Lovereading4Kids comment

Winner of the 2015 Guardian Children's Book prize - One of our Books of the Year 2014 and Winner of the 2015 Peters Book of the Year 'Teen Fiction' Award Award-winning David Almond is at his lyrical best in this eloquent, tender and ultimately devastating contemporary teenage love story which draws lightly but to great effect on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Camping on a beach near home as a break from school and its pressures, a group of teenagers, minus their friend Ella, come across Orpheus, a wandering musician. No one knows where he comes from or whether he will appear again but his music is so special that Claire plays it down the phone to Ella. And Ella is entranced. But who is Orpheus? The power of love and the terrible danger it can pose drives this exceptionally touching and thoughtful story. ~ Julia Eccleshare

Judge and author Jenny Valentine described the book as “an absolute masterclass in the transformative power of language. It is fearless, free and full of wonder and I am changed by reading it.” Fellow judge Natasha Farrant said that reading the story of Ella Grey “hasn’t just changed the way I look at Orpheus. It has changed the way I look at the world.

The following titles were longlisted for the 2015 Guardian Children's Book Prize
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
An Island of our Own by Sally Nicholls
El Deafo by Cece Bell
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This year’s prize is being judged by authors Piers Torday, Jenny Valentine and Natasha Farrant, and chaired by Guardian children’s books editor and Lovereading4kids editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare. Torday said: “These books are quite simply some of the best writing for children today, from graphic novels to Victorian sequels, Greek myths to the US civil war. Diverse, complex, accessible, experimental, page turning and heart-breaking, they bring young readers the world on a single shelf.”

The winner of the prize will be announced on the 19th November.


A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

I'm the one who's left behind. I'm the one to tell the tale. I knew them both...knew how they lived and how they died. Claire is Ella Grey's best friend. She's there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story - as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.


Infused with lyricism and with the fire and oddness of adolescence. Fresh, involving and lucid, it is a song in itself, and teens will find it fills them with poignant longing and joy. The Daily Telegraph

A desperately romantic and deeply lyrical re-imagining of Orpheus and Eurydice... David Almond at his best. * * * * * Bookbag

[David Almond] is becoming the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Children's Fiction. -- Janni Howker TES

This is absolutely beautiful and quite possibly my favourite Almond novel to date. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is retold against a wild Northumbrian landscape: life, death, love and myths. Just wonderful. -- Fiona Noble The Bookseller

About the Author

David Almond

David Almond was our Guest Editor in September 2011 CLICK HERE to see his choices.

As a child

I grew up in a large Catholic family in Felling-on-Tyne: four sisters and one brother. I always knew I'd be a writer – I wrote stories and stitched them into little books. I had an uncle who was a printer, and in his printing shop I learned my love of black words on white pages. I loved our local library and dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover on its shelves. I also dreamed of playing for Newcastle United (and I still wait for the call!). There was much joy in my childhood, but also much sadness: a baby sister died when I was 7; my dad died when we were all still young; my mum was always seriously ill with arthritis. But it was a childhood, like all childhoods, that provided everything a writer needs, and it illuminates and informs everything I write.

As an adult

After school, I read English and American Literature. When I graduated I became a teacher – long holidays, short days, just perfect for a writer. After 5 years, I gave up the job and lived in a commune in rural Norfolk where I wrote and met my partner Sara Jane. I wrote a long adult novel that was rejected by every UK publisher. I had two collections of short stories published by the tiny IRON Press. I started another adult novel, put it aside, and suddenly, out of the blue, I found myself writing Skellig. It was as if the story had been waiting for me, and once I began, it seemed to write itself. I hadn't expected to write a children's novel, but in some way it was the natural outcome of everything I'd done before, and was the stepping-stone to everything I've done since. I now live in Northumberland with Sara Jane and our daughter Freya. I'm a full-time writer. Sara Jane makes ceramics, Freya goes to school.

As an artist

For years, I was hardly published and hardly anyone knew about me apart from a handful of keen fans. And I made just about no money at all from writing. That didn't really matter to me. I'd keep on writing, no matter what. Then I wrote Skellig and everything changed. I began to sell lots of books, to be translated into many languages, to travel, to win lots of prizes. I've written a number of novels after Skellig, including Kit's Wilderness, The Fire-Eaters and Clay. There have been stage versions of the novels, and films and an opera are on their way. I used to write in the attic at home, but there were lots of distractions – especially from email and telephone. So last year, I had a cabin built at the bottom of the garden. It's very nice, blue-grey and surrounded by trees. I have a radiator to keep me warm and I have a tap and a kettle for making tea. Every morning – when I'm at home and not travelling or making school visits or talking to people on the phone or answering emails – I carry my laptop down to the cabin and I set to work.

Things you didn't know about David Almond

I once held the school high-jump record – 5 ft 2.5 inches.

I have a pet rabbit called Bill who can grunt.

I dream about football – and kick in my sleep!

I love Japanese food – except for the thing I was given once that looked like an alien's brain.

I've taken part in three Great North Runs (half-marathons).

My favourite place is Upper Swaledale in Yorkshire.

I love bikes, camping and fires.

My first TV appearance was as an altar boy in a televised mass when I was eleven.

My grandfather was a bookie (he took bets on horse races). His advice? "Never bet." He also told me, "Never read novels. They're all just lies."

My nickname at school was Dai, and several old friends still call me that.

Julia Eccleshare on David Almond:

One of the best-loved and finest writers of today, David Almond made an immediate impact with Skellig, his first book. The moving story of a boy’s discovery of a strange creature in the shed which can be interpreted in many ways introduced some to the recurrent themes of David Almond’s writing. Infused with a touch of magic or the supernatural or ‘belief’, David Almond writes sensitively about the inner complexities of growing up. Much influenced by the landscape of Tyneside where he was brought up and still lives, David Almond’s books have a strong sense of place especially in titles such as Heaven’s Eyes, The Fire-Eater and Kit’s Wilderness. Although often clearly set in some particular time, there is a timeless quality to David Almond’s stories which give them enduring appeal.

More books by this author

Loading similar books...

Other Formats

Book Info


272 pages
Interest Age: From 12


David Almond
More books by David Almond

Author's Website


Author's Facebook Latest


Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Books

Publication date

2nd March 2015




I am so pleased to have signed my kids up as they are reading a much wider range of books and even choosing books out of their comfort zone.

Angela East

It’s really exciting to read and review new books, thrilling to see my reviews online and I love finding the final published copies on sale.

Sam Harper – age 10

Love “Lovereading4kids” as my son gets to hear about & read new books before his mates which keeps him interested in reading=a very happy Mum

Liz Evans

At @HHSHaringey we love @lovereading4kids because our pupils can practice reviewing & get free upcoming books before anyone else!

Helen Swinyard – Heartlands High

I love all the books they recommend & put up for me to review. I also love the fact that they give new authors the chance to share their boo

Daisy Pennock – age 15

I have told all my friends, family & teachers to see for themselves just how great the site is. Without fail, they are hugely impressed.

Alexander Boxall – age 11

A great way to introduce kids to great books, authors & genres. Parents can find age-appropriate books to share with their children.

Judi Davies – Aberdare Girls Sch

We love Lovereading4kids because they put books in front of us we wouldn’t otherwise have read. They make us more adventurous readers!

Emily Jacques

Lovereading 4 schools