The Song from Somewhere Else

The Song from Somewhere Else

The Song from Somewhere Else
A.F. Harrold

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408853375

Librarian's Book choice

This is a story that starts and ends with a cat. The disappearance of the family cat starts a series of events for Frank when she runs into the group of boys who have been bullying her for months while putting up missing notices in the local park.

Help comes from an unexpected quarter, when she is rescued by Nick Underbridge, an equally sidelined and lonely character. Nick is strange, different from everybody else at school, not someone that Frank would want to be seen with. But gradually as her friendship with Nick develops, she realises that Nick has secrets that have been kept hidden for a long time.

There is something unusual about his house, a strange music playing there that she has never heard before but which makes her feel special. The music leads her to discover a window into a strange fantasy world that is bumping into our own. But where worlds collide, there is danger, and unscrupulous beings that do not always have good intentions. Now there are bigger issues than just Nick and his secret, real danger, and Frank has to make the right decisions to prevent disaster.

There is a fairy tale quality to this story, as it deals with some big themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, acceptance and being true to yourself. It is about dealing with moral dilemmas and having to make choices, realizing that you can make changes if you have the courage and determination.

The beautiful, evocative black and white illustrations by Levi Pinfold throughout the book create atmosphere that help to transport the reader into this magical world.

There is a realistic portrayal of persistent, low level bullying that is believable and the impact on the victim can be understood. It is very satisfying that Frank's courage finally overcomes her fear of the bullies and she learns to stand up to them. This is a very satisfying read, and will appeal to readers of Neil Gaiman but also of Rebecca Stead.

240 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, school librarian.


The Song from Somewhere Else5/5

The Song from Somewhere Else

A.F. Harrold


It's the summer holidays and six weeks seems like an endless amount of time to Frank. Her best friend Jess is on holiday and she doesn't even have her cat, Quintilius Minimus, for company as he is missing. Unfortunately for Frank there are some people from school who are also at home for the holidays, Noble and his cronies, Roy and Rob. However they have only one goal for the summer: to make Frank's life miserable. Whilst she is putting up 'missing' posters for her cat in the park, she has a particularly nasty run in with them. Luckily Nick, a very unpopular boy from school, comes to her aid. Here an unlikely friendship blossoms, but Frank can't help but grapple with uncomfortable thoughts about what her friends at school will think. Should she give Noble even more cause to make her life miserable? She ends up seeking sanctuary from Noble and his gang at Nick's house. Whilst there, she hears the most amazing music. It puts the normally very anxious Frank at ease. It calms all of her worrying voices and gives her peace. Frank is fascinated, but Nick claims he can't hear it. She returns to the house the next day hoping to hear the music once more. She realises that it is coming from Nick's cellar. She can't help herself and takes a look. Here she discovers the source, but in the process uncovers the most peculiar secret. Can Frank protect the secret for Nick's sake? Or will Noble and his gang force it out of her? Why is Frank now more aware of what's lurking in the shadows? This is a fantastic book! I got through it in two sittings! It could be used for PHSE sessions as you can really explore character's motives, particularly Noble's and how Frank deals with his bullying. There is a crucial moment towards the end of the story that requires Frank to be very mature and forgiving. I think this text would be suitable from Year 4 as a class reader or for more confident free readers. Nick is a fantastic character and shows true bravery - children will love him. 5 stars! 217 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Elizabeth Harris, teacher.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Harris