I haven't read any books by Cath Howe before but I am really pleased I have now. 'The Insiders' (out May 5th) is a wonderful children's book that sensitively and compassionately explores the effects of bullying. Cath Howe authentically captures the inner minds of children with a sense of tenderness, wisdom and humour.
Secrets. Lies. Promises. Sometimes keeping things inside is dangerous.
Callie, Ted, Zara, and Nico are best friends. More than friends - they're like family to each other. But since being embarrassed at school in a practical joke gone wrong, Ted has stopped talking to the rest of the gang. And when Callie, Zara and Nico discover that someone has been living in their school, and sleeping in the building at night, they decide to investigate - without Ted.
What makes this book work so brilliantly is the balance of perspectives exploring issues of friendships, general anxiety and the consequences of bullying. There are three children (Callie, Ted and Billy) who narrate the events, each offering their own unique point-of-view and distinctive voice. The collision of these perspectives is what makes the story so interesting; without talking to each other we can see how problems arise or worsen when their worries are kept solely 'inside'. I particularly adored Billy whose mistakes at school are as a result of his home-life - something so often invisible in school. There are great lessons about saying sorry and the power of forgiveness for child readers here, as well as the importance of opening up, particularly when bullying causes so much distress. As a teacher myself, I am appalled, though, by the teachers lack of awareness, but it is a warning of what can go wrong if we don't pick up on children's warning signs. Children carry 'bags' loaded with emotions and worries and this book brilliantly captures that dynamic in real-time. Not only that, but there are suspenseful scenes as the children sneak into school during the night, and the climax, as everything comes together, is nail-biting!
I really recommend 'The Insiders', particularly as a book that offers lots of discussion points for children about how to tackle bullying by opening up about our inner lives and seeking forgiveness in friendships.
Thank you to Nosy Crow for my proof copy to review.