It turned out to be something I didn’t expect.
Stats: 124 pages, published in 2011.
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy fiction (? – I’m guessing a bit here).
Blurb: (from Alex himself) Eleven-year-old schoolboy, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him precious little in the way of love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his suburban garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend.
As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown completely off course – and as a result the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down. While Harry has a close encounter with God, Roy embarks on a voyage of discovery that draws in and impacts on everyone around him, including the local police, his headmaster and the national media. Where will it all end, and will life ever be quite the same for Roy Nuttersley?
What I liked: It was an interesting story in that I had no idea where it was going to end up, which is a good thing when writing for middle-grade readers or any readers for that matter. I like the smart blackbirds and the cooperation of the geese to the blackbirds plight to help Roy and get their birdhouse (and food) back. The bully even turns his life around.
What I didn’t like: It wandered a bit with Pearl telling about a man who ends up contributing his nice, colorful ties to Roy’s cause, introducing Roy’s protagonist, Harry Hodges, to the life of a girl on the streets, telling of the life of a man who wants to capitalize on what the birds end up doing for Roy. These are interesting people, but hearing their back stories doesn’t really add to the story in general. Even though the story has thinking and plotting blackbirds in it, the ending is a bit too far fetched. It’s a happy ending, which is nice, but too unrealistic for even this imaginative story. The cover is nice, but a little dark for the light/upbeat story that this is.
Rating: 3/5 (maybe the kids won’t care about the ending)
It’s a question I often ask myself. Well, basically I’m a short-sighted bloke aged 50, which I suppose is pretty old really. And for 27 years I have worked at various advertising agencies and marketing companies as something called a copywriter. This means I have to sit in an office and write the words that appear in adverts, leaflets and letters. It’s a funny old job. Sometimes it can be fun when, for instance, you have to make a TV or radio commercial. But this doesn’t happen very often. At other times it can be rather dull and frustrating when a client rejects your work that you created and insists that you do something far less interesting.
Outside work I’m a husband and a dad, and I live in North West London with my wife and two children. We don’t have any animals in our house but we do see lots of birds in our garden. And yes, we do have a bird table, but only the one, and this is usually attacked by the squirrels before any bird can get to it.
Ways to connect with Alex and his book: