I'm thrilled that it's my turn on the blog tour for M.G Leonard's magnificent 'Twitch'. Below is my review followed by information on how my school became 'twitchers' during lockdown.
'Twitch' is tremendous; trademark M.G Leonard. If you loved 'Beetle Boy' and the 'Adventures on Trains' series (with Sam Sedgman) then you'll adore this. I did. 'Twitch' is wholesome, comforting and exciting - the feeling of stepping out of lockdown into a forest bristling with life, and danger. As I write this review in the early hours, I can hear the birds singing their morning chorus and if I close my eyes I can imagine being out with Twitch on an adventure...
It's the beginning of the summer holidays and a convicted robber is on the loose in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his skills as a passionate birdwatcher to find this dangerous person and track down the millions of pounds that have been stolen and hidden?
This is such a great concept: the juxtaposition between the beauty of the woods and the sense of danger at its heart. As with 'Beetle Boy' M.G Leonard draws our attention to nature, in this case the life of birds, while offering a thrilling plot with a crime to solve. I adored the vivid sense of place, the escapist feeling of being in the woods with Twitch with details of his hide and the bustling life that surrounds him. Near where I live is Whippendell Woods which backs onto a canal and wetlands. I've often spotted herons and kingfishers there with my daughter so was utterly transported to Aves Wood. 'Twitch' is a perfect antidote to lockdown; by opening the book you're stepping out into the woods for adventure. M.G Leonard perfectly captures this feeling with wild wordsmith's magic. It's an absolute joy to read: classic and comforting and crackling with life.
But it's not just the setting, it's the fabulous characters, human and avian, that makes this such a joy too. Twitch (Darkus Cuttle's long lost cousin?) is our wonderful birdwatching guide. He's flawed but pure and innocent - a role-model for children in following your heart and your passion. Jack is the 'every-boy' and I really enjoyed his story arc as he softens and learns to love birdwatching too. Amita is a real hoot; a magical character that deserves her own tale. I wonder what she was like as a young girl? I'm sure there's a story there.
With its triumphant ending, 'Twitch' will leave you jumping for joy and grabbing your binoculars to get outside. Simply brilliant!
Thank you to Walker Books for my copy to review.
Birdwatching in my school
Back in early spring my school, Watford St John's Primary School, took part in the RSPB's Birdwatch 2021: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/.
From bedroom windows to woods and Watford gardens, our school community collectively managed to spot, draw or photograph these top ten birds: Woodpigeon, Blackbird, House sparrow, Starling, Magpie, Carrion crow, Robin, Blue tit, Black-headed gull and Feral pigeon. It was a wonderful activity to do and lifted spirits for everyone. My Year 4 class even produced artwork to celebrate our birdwatching success. Examples are shown here.
I urge any school or family to get out there and spot birds whereever you are! You will be surprised. I will certainly be heading off to Whippendell Woods again soon with my daughter to catch sight of some kingfishers. Meanwhile, why not join the Twitters' Club: www.twitchersclub.com ?