Soonchild by Russell Hoban


Written by Russell Hoban
Illustrated by Alexis Deacon

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Shortlisted for the 2012 Guardian children's fiction prize.

Award winning Russell Hoban has written a lyrical story of magic and wonder that begs to be read and re-read as the mysterious story unravels. Deep, deep in the heart of the frozen north a shaman and his wife are expecting their first baby. But Soonchild doesn’t want to come out. It lies like a stone in its mother's belly; it never kicks or moves and yet the mother knows that it is alive. Finally, the baby speaks…Can its Shaman father do what is necessary to unlock the singing of the world and so encourage the baby to be born? Alexis Deacon captures the frozen world and the magic and mystery that lie at the heart of it.


Soonchild by Russell Hoban

Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother's womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John's past...

This book is jacketed.


'Hoban is the best sort of genius.' Patrick Ness in The Guardian

About the Author

Russell Hoban

As a child

Russell Hoban was born in Pennsylvania, USA. His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine; his father was the advertising manager of a Jewish newspaper as well as a dram guild director. Russell was thus exposed to the arts early on, and became interested in writing at an early age, winning prizes for his stories and poems during his school years.

As an adult

Russell served in the US Infantry during WWII. For a time he taught art in New York and Connecticut. He then worked as a freelance illustrator and an advertising copywriter. He began publishing children's books in 1958, and since then has published more than fifty. His picture book The Sea-Thing Child, illustrated by Patrick Benson, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Russell passed away at the age of 86 in 2011.

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Book Info


144 pages


Russell Hoban
More books by Russell Hoban

Author's Website


Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

1st March 2012




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