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Bone Music

Written by David Almond

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Bone Music Review

Adventure Stories Books of the Month Ecological and Environmental Interest - Fiction Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 13+ readers

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

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

Other Info

David Almond says: ‘This book is really important to me. At times it seemed to flow through me like music. I felt very close to the shy and rebellious Sylvia Carr as she stepped boldly into the darkness of the forest and of the past. The book is set within the wild and extraordinary landscapes of Northumberland, which in many ways form the geography of my imagination. All stories are acts of hope and of re-creation, moves against the forces of destruction that surround us all. Bone Music is an optimistic book for young people, written in the belief that together we can create a better world.’

Bone Music Synopsis

This wonderful tale transports the reader from the city to the forests and fells of Northern England.

Under a boundless starry sky, the unforgettable Sylvia Carr reconnects with the ancient past and discovers what it really means to be young in the world today. Sylvia, brave hearted and rebellious, moves into wild Northumberland from the city of Newcastle. She feels alien in this huge, silent, seemingly empty landscape, but then she meets Gabriel, a strange yet familiar boy. As they roam the forests and fells together, she sees nature with new eyes. She becomes aware that the past is all around her, and is deep inside herself.

From the wing of a dead buzzard, they create a hollow bone - the kind of flute that was created and used in rituals in the distant past. This is a book of hope and joy - a book that celebrates humanity and explores the deep connections between ourselves and nature.

Bone Music Press Reviews

Lyrical...hypnotic and beautifully written - The Daily Mail

This tale from rural Northumberland will stick with you...He explores our place in the world, our connection to nature. At some point it becomes a rather Blakean tale of, wise, and never boring - The Times Children's Book of the Week

A breathtakingly beautiful and lyrical novel - The Bookseller

A remarkable book that already feels like a classic, it is sure to become one - The Irish Times

Mystical - Financial Times

David Almond's novels are so simple on the surface, so hauntingly mysterious in their depths - Financial Times

This is a book of hope and joy - get out of your comfort zone, explore the extraordinary, get in touch with nature and share in the belief that young & old can create a better world. - Young Writers

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781444952926
Publication date: 02/09/2021
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781444952919
Publication date: 01/04/2021
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781444952926
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
Author: David Almond
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 208 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Ecological and Environmental, Family / Home Stories
Recommendations: Books of the Month

About David Almond

David Almond was our Guest Editor in September 2011 CLICK HERE to see his choices. David Almond is the acclaimed author of many award-winning novels for children such as Skellig, Kit's Wilderness and My Name Is Mina, and has collaborated with artists Polly Dunbar, Dave McKean and Oliver Jeffers on fiction for younger readers. David's books sell all over the world, and in 2011 he was the recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. He lives in Hexham, Northumberland. Click here to read more information about the author. Julia Eccleshare on David Almond: One of the best-loved and finest writers of ...

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