'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Review: The Song of Lewis Carmichael

The Song of Lewis Carmichael,
Sophie Laguna’s first children’s book in a decade, captures the reader’s attention immediately, and with its magical atmosphere, flings them into the story, making them a part of it from beginning to end.

Matthew had dreamed and read and thought about the Arctic and North Pole for as long as he could remember.

His world is comprised of unlimited books about the permanently frozen Arctic tundra, its animals, landscape and weather, the Northern Lights and everything connected to that place of escape.

Friendless, solitary, and without confidence, finding words for things was difficult for Matthew. He longed for a sibling. Not for himself, but for his parents. Someone who was more what they wanted.

One night, a black crow with a broken wing taps at his bedroom window. He introduces himself as Lewis Carmichael, a bird that Matthew had once shared his cake with in the park.

Beyond the window on the roof, a coloured air balloon waits, impatiently slipping towards the edge. Matthew believes he is dreaming, but Lewis puts that thought to rest.

From the moment he steps into the balloon with Lewis, Matthew’s transformation begins.

Eager to experience the place of his longing, the boy and bird embark on the greatest adventure. After six thousand nine hundred and twenty-two miles, they land on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.

Lewis is brave enough to trust the boy unconditionally. This allows Matthew the opportunity to shift into being who he longs to be. Now empowered, he proves resourceful, able to make decisions for them both by utilising all the knowledge he has stored in his brain from his books.

The repetitious reinforcement of love and encouragement by Lewis through his song to Matthew, cements their friendship and completes the boy’s metamorphosis.

Blue has been used for the text and the exquisite fine line illustrations that are delicate and fragile like transparent glass. Both verbal and visual narrative represents the purity of the Arctic, the pivotal point in the story.

Marc McBride’s illustrations shine within Laguna’s emotive and elegant poetic prose, which like music, skips, rises and falls. Two immensely gifted creators, collaborating to produce a novel of the utmost beauty.

Title: The Song of Lewis Carmichael
Author: Sofie Laguna
Illustrator: Marc McBride
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $
Publication Date: 31 August 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760878573
For ages: 8 – 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction