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I'm delighted to be part of the book blog tour for the excellent new children's book 'Storm Child'. I greatly admire Ele Fountain's writing (read my past review of 'Wild') and this new book again marks her out as an author who crafts emotionally-raw stories that promote empathy and understanding. 'Storm Child' is a calm meditation on the storms of life: a study of friendship and change and legacy. This is delicately and powerfully evoked in the sense of belonging and responsibility felt living on the coast, whether near or faraway. I have not felt well the last couple of weeks, and this book has helped me to begin to calm my own storms too. Books like these matter.

Maya's life is about to be upended. After her dad's fishing boat is ravaged by a relentless storm, Maya's parents make the decision to start over-by moving to a tropical island. But making a change doesn't always make a difference.

Far from her friends and her quiet seaside home where she spent all her time surfing, Maya is swept away by a storm much larger than herself...

My first thoughts about 'Storm Child' is how well Ele Fountain brings to life the rugged and windswept coastline. I spent a few years of my childhood on the coast of Cornwall so I felt very at home and could picture Maya's life. What Ele Fountain does so well is to capture children's / teenagers' seemingly ordinary lives with realism and empathy. There's also something very British (although locations aren't specified) about a girl's family with a legacy of living in their cove on the coast, while being dependent on fishing for their livelihoods. Again, it's left open to interpretation, but this alludes to the cost of living crisis, high bills and the threat of private development on sites of family heritage.


It's refreshing to have a story like this that focuses on the threat of poverty and uprooting that has a rural context rather than the urban settings we might come to expect for children's stories with these themes. But Ele Fountain explores these themes with subtlety. Instead, her focus is on character, particularly on Maya and her relationship with her parents, her friends and her new friend Kalani when they move abroad. Like sailing a boat through currents and winds of change, 'Storm Child' is about how families and friends respond to life's challenges - in both the calm and stormy waters. There is tenderness and vividness in this. And Ele Fountain continues to establish herself as an author who writes authentically for empathy, alongside others such as Cath Howe, Tom Percival and Catherine Bruton. 

I highly recommend 'Storm Child' to children in Upper Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three. Excellent stuff! Thank you to Pushkin Press for my copy to review.

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