Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"All the colours are in my head, whirling and spinning and clashing together, my mind a broken kaleidoscope of red and green and gold. I charge upstairs and hurtle into my room. I tear down the posters, rip the fantasy from my ceiling and walls. Pull off silvered unicorns and pale princesses. Turreted castles fall. Elves and goblins, bright cartoon characters, things of his imagination and mine. I'm going to kill them all."
Solomon and his father live alone together and share an uneasy, sometimes volatile relationship. His father is an alcoholic and Solomon is a real outsider both at home and at school. Misunderstood, he is persecuted for being different. The only place Solomon finds release and relief is within the silence of the graveyard. This becomes disrupted, however, when a Rowan tree that grows there is uprooted unleashing an immense and deadly force.
An accomplished rites of passage story interweaving aspects from legend and lore, Solomon's life begins to change when he forges a friendship with Amy. Together the pair face prejudices past and present. What is captured so powerfully in the book is the sense in which unspoken emotions and thoughts are able to carry a tremendous force and an immense capacity for damage and danger both to ourselves and others. A supernatural thriller on one level, the story also acts as an allegory for how worries and situations that are buried can so easily become unearthed, growing in magnitude.
The impact of Solomon's dyslexia - measured both through his life and that of his father - lends the book incredible emotional depth. As a whole, the book affirms just why the ability to read is so important, it gives us access to words to help to describe and thereby give body to how we think and what we feel, it presents us with stories that give a framework to help to understand our lives and world. A book that packs a hefty punch, this is an unsentimental story about facing one's concerns and beginning to contend with them.