Lonny is a lifeling. But he pays a price for this gift - by lengthening the creature's life, he shortens his own. Because if people knew what he could do, Lonny would be left with no life at all... A brilliant novel from the author of The Middler about family, secrets and a terrible power.
Reviewed by Kelly Ashley
The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke is about Lonny Quicke, a 12-year old boy who harbours a big, family secret. Lonny lives with his father, grandad and brother, Midge, in the woods, isolated from the people in the neighbouring town Farstoke. However, the family maintains this distance for good reason. Lonny was born a ‘lifeling.’ Blessed with the gift of life, he is able to bring animals, creatures and even people back from the brink of death with just a touch of his hand. The only caveat to this generative gift is that each time he gives life, his own is taken away, day by day, month by month or even year by year. This is the longstanding secret of the Quicke family and why they stay hidden away from the outside world – to keep Lonny safe. The security of the forest, however, soon becomes suffocating as Lonny has a thirst for adventure and wants to break free of his mundane, outlying life. When an opportunity presents itself to visit Farstoke, Lonny he sees his chance for adventure. Will this freedom be everything he hoped it would be? Will he be able to keep his family secret and stay safe?
Following on from her other successful dystopian and science fiction middle grade novels, The Middler (2019) and Troofriend (2020), Kirsty Applebaum offers readers a window into another unique world. As with all of Applebaum’s works, friendship runs strongly as a theme throughout with the constant pull of opposing forces drawing the reader into the action of the story – safety and freedom, life and death, friendship and isolation. The Life and Times of Lonny Quicke is a novel full of choices – a great selection to share with children aged 9-12 that will prompt discussion about what they might do if they were in possession of Lonny’s gift.
To introduce the novel, it would be useful to delve into the meaning of Lonny’s surname, Quicke, in the Etymology Online Dictionary This free, online resource offers word archaeologists the opportunity to dig up the history of words – their origin and changing meanings of over time. According to this source, the word ‘quicken’ arrived into English in the 1300s and meant ‘to come to life, receive life’ and later ‘give life to’ and ‘return life from the dead.’ By exploring the significance of the protagonist’s name from the view of word history, we can support learners to make predictions before reading. By coupling this etymology (word history) alongside a discussion of the book title and blurb, we can provide readers with a unique hook into this compelling novel. The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke is one, not to be missed!