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Written by Rob Harrell

Books of the Month Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Humorous Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) School Stories Star Books

LoveReading View on Wink

A comic, compassionate account of a 12-year-old’s battle with maddening Middle School troubles (fallings-outs and not fitting in) while also battling cancer

April 2020 Book of the Month

Twelve-year-old Ross is dealt a devastating blow when he’s told he has an extremely rare form of eye cancer and is likely to lose sight in both eyes. Based on author Rob Harrell’s personal experience of eye cancer, and spiced with his cool comic-strips of Ross’s Battbutt and Batpig characters, Wink has all the freshness and pitch-perfect narrative voice of a Louis Sachar story, with its own unique warmth and wit.

As Ross struggles with the strangeness of undergoing immediate radiation treatment, he also faces a terrible time at school. Cruelly called the “Cancer Cowboy” on account of having to wear a hat, he’s also the subject of malicious memes. While Ross’s personal plight is at the huge heart of this novel, it’s equally as powerful in its portrayal of the wider impact of devastating diagnoses, most poignantly when Ross’s friend Isaac distances himself from their Oreo-sealed friendship pact. But as Isaac retreats, he makes life-changing new friends as a result of his treatment. First there’s fellow patient Jerry, a wise-cracking old guy who rebuffs Ross’s desire to be normal. According to Jerry, “Different moves the needle. Different is where the good stuff happens. There’s strength in difference.” Then there’s Frank, the adorable radiation tech guy who teaches Ross to play guitar, which has tear-jerkingly transformational effects.

What an authentic, emotional, amusing and all-round awesome read this is.

Joanne Owen

Other Info

25% Illness, 25% Friends, 25% Kindness, 25% BatPig

Wink Synopsis

Ross Molloy just wants to be normal. He doesn't want to lose his hair, or wear a weird hat, or deal with the disappearing friends who don't know what to say to 'the cancer kid'. But with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, simply blending in is no longer an option. Ross - and his friends and his family - all need to work out how to deal with this devastating challenge that Life has thrown down. Maybe Batpig can come to the rescue?

Based on Rob Harrell's own real life experience of eye cancer, and including amazing comic-strip artwork, this poignant and authentic novel is unforgettable, hilarious and uplifting.

Wink Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

Wink manages to combine humour, depth and a superhero Batpig. Older children will love diving into this relatable, laugh-out-loud book that doesn't shy away from the heavier aspects of life. Caution: Reading this book could also lead to excellent music taste. Full review

Katie Stephenson

This is a great book for anyone who wants to understand Ross's world. Full review

Evie Aconley (Age 13)

The book wink is a great read. You just do not want to put the book down as you want to discover what happens to the main character Ross-as he goes through many challenges in life but always pushes through. Full review

Bella (Age 13)

Ross's whole life turns around in just a wink. Nothing hurts more than not being normal for Ross. Drama and more. Ross just needs music to soothe him. THANK YOU Full review

Darya Abdian (Age 10)

Aimed at Middle-Grade readers, it is a funny and emotional tale about friendship and resilience – and the power of music to lift you up – that will have you both laughing and crying. A great read and a must for the school library. Full review

Barbara Band

Growing up is a challenge, growing up with cancer is a challenge, growing up to be a rock god...impossible! But, Ross is determined to survive it all. Full review


Wink Press Reviews

'I loved Wink! Heartbreakingly funny, this book is proof that laughter is the best form of medicine. A smart, likeable story that's full of heart.' - Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781471409141
Publication date: 31/03/2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781471409141
Publication date: 31st March 2020
Author: Rob Harrell
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Humorous, Personal Social Health Economic , Bullying / Violence / Abuse, Disability / Special Needs, School Stories
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Star Books
Collections: Anti Bullying Week & World Kindness Day, Our favourite children's books of 2020,
Other Categories: If They Like...They'll Love

About Rob Harrell

Rob Harrell is a syndicated cartoonist (Adam@ Home) and his illustration clients include Mad magazine, Time Inc. and Volkswagen. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and dogs.

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