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.
The book opens with a group of friends embarking on a camping holiday trip to Nordy Bank without any adults present. The group are not entirely an easy fit with Peter the eldest and the leader, Margery his younger sister a somewhat more diplomatic and less brusque character than her brother, Robin a budding palaeontologist and Anne cousin and cook who is afraid of dogs. Margery has her friend Bronwen join them, and Peter his friend Joe. A certain level of jostling occurs between the characters and their different vantage points on life and choices facing them, but through this emerges a sense of each of the individual’s own developing characters and identities.
The camp begins during the Easter holiday atop Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire, the site of the Iron Age fort of Nordy Bank. Bronwen acutely feels the history of the place and comes to be haunted by it, sensing the history with a crackling tangibility This leads Margery to fear that her friend might have been possessed.
Throughout the book there is a sense of the children coming together, learning about one another and, as a group coming to better understand and overcome some of the difficulties and anxieties they face. This is especially true when an escaped Alsatian from the army arrives at the camp. Bron fears the beast is a wolf, but as he is muzzled and hungry, she slowly begins to care for him. Bron has to make decisions around her future and whether she will journey to Paris with her parents, or stay and look after the dog. This is an ambitious and multifaceted story. Whilst it offers insight into developing characters from the group of friends, its separate story strands do not always feel to cohere as satisfactorily as they might.