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Bone Music

"Exceptional story of a girl’s newfound bond with nature and hope for the world through a boy who conjures ancient bone music"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

September 2021 Book of the Month

Unrivalled in his capacity to conjure soulful truths that transcend time and place, David Almond’s writing never fails to get to the very heart of what it is to be human and, though its setting is modern, Bone Music is a sublimely timeless masterpiece - a raw, pure, measuredly lyrical story of a girl discovering deep bonds to nature and the distant past. Underpinned by a belief that the world can be made a better place, it will appeal to a broad range of 11+-year-olds (and adults), from dedicated bookworms, to more reluctant readers.

 

“Why had her bliddy mother brought her here?” city girl Sylvia complains. There’s no phone signal in the wilds of Northumberland, where her mother was born, where they’re currently staying. On her first night here, Sylvia is disturbed by haunting music: “It was like something she’d dreamed before, like something coming from inside her as well as from outside her, like something she’d heard before.” Then she meets a young musician, Gabriel, who wisely remarks - out of the blue - that “the world’s bloody awful, isn’t it? … It’s bloody awful and it isn’t bloody awful. It’s bloody marvellous”. 

 

Through their forest wandering and fashioning of a bone flute from the wing of a dead buzzard, Sylvia sees the world anew and experiences life’s “bloody marvellous” aspects. As Gabriel explains, bone flutes “were used to charm the living. They were used to call the dead”, and they were used in ancient rites of passage. The magic of bone music and nature casts an unceasing spell on Sylvia (“the beauty of the world poured into her”), as does Gabriel. His wisdom has timely, timeless resonance: ‘‘Something’s wrong, isn’t it? Look at the state of the bliddy world. Look at all the anxious, troubled kids. We need more, don’t we?” And that, perhaps, gets to the heart of this remarkable book - it’s a story that stimulates reflection, provokes questions and prompts us to ask what we really need (and don’t need) while celebrating primal connections to the earth and the ancient past. What a joy.

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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Like nothing else I have ever read. Lyrical and poignant, ‘Bone Music’ is hauntingly beautiful and original.

Sylvia has reluctantly left behind her life in Newcastle for a week. In need of a break, her mother has taken a holiday to the village she grew up in. Here, Sylvia is faced with the boundless beauty of wild Northumberland and initially feels lost, the pull of her home city overwhelming. However, the magic of nature soon weaves its spell on her and when she meets the enigmatic Gabriel, Sylvia finds a new joy in the beauty surrounding her and develops a deep sense of connection with the past.

Completely spell-binding, Bone Music is like nothing else that I have ever read. Sylvia is a city girl, passionate about the future of the planet, a protester, with a close group of friends, and yet she is initially lost in the space and nothingness of the fells.... Read Full Review

Sue Wilsher

Like nothing else I have ever read. Lyrical and poignant, ‘Bone Music’ is hauntingly beautiful and original.

Sylvia has reluctantly left behind her life in Newcastle for a week. In need of a break, her mother has taken a holiday to the village she grew up in. Here, Sylvia is faced with the boundless beauty of wild Northumberland and initially feels lost, the pull of her home city overwhelming. However, the magic of nature soon weaves its spell on her and when she meets the enigmatic Gabriel, Sylvia finds a new joy in the beauty surrounding her and develops a deep sense of connection with the past.

Completely spell-binding, Bone Music is like nothing else that I have ever read. Sylvia is a city girl, passionate about the future of the planet, a protester, with a close group of friends, and yet she is initially lost in the space and nothingness of the fells.... Read Full Review

Sue Wilsher