Sky Dancer

Sky Dancer

Sky Dancer
Gill Lewis

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192749253

Joe has always loved the moorlands above his home: the wildness, the freedom, the peace. But since his father died, everything has changed, and the moors are no longer a place of refuge. Now the whole community is divided over the fate of the hen harriers that nest up there in the heather - and Joe is stuck right in the middle, with a choice to make, and a huge secret to keep. Joe can't do what's right for everyone. But can he find the strength to fight for what he really believes in? Expert storyteller Gill Lewis presents a beautiful tale of loss, expectation, and change - with an important and thought-provoking environmental message.

Librarian's Book choice

Sky Dancer is a bold and beautiful tale of friendship, nature and community. It is a story about three young people from very different backgrounds who find themselves swept up into a complex world of communities at war with one another over issues of tradition, conservation and what it means to live in harmony with the environment.

At the heart of the story is the plight of the hen harrier. This is a majestic bird of prey that has been hunted to the very brink because it threatens the population of grouse upon which a shoot depends. Sky Dancer is not a sugar-coated look at rural life and Lewis does not shy away from some of the tricky issues affecting and dividing communities. As such, it is very much a story for our times and has much to offer young readers from an environmental point of view. The reader is challenged to imagine a future that is different from the status quo. In today's troubled world, this is a hugely valuable message for adults and children alike.

However, the real joy of this story for me is the sense of empathy that it provokes. The characters are so deftly drawn that you cannot help but care about them and you swiftly find yourself drawn into the adventure alongside them. Themes of loyalty, friendship, hope and courage give this story real emotional power and there is genuine magic in the descriptions of the moorland itself. You feel truly transported to the wild open spaces of the moor, with heather underfoot and birds wheeling overhead. Five stars from me and I look forward to recommending this wonderful book to my pupils!

272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian.