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The Switching Hour

The Switching Hour

Published: 1 Aug 2019

Paperback / softback, 288 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Damaris Young

Published by Scholastic

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Never stay out after the Switching Hour... never let the outside in...

Amaya lives in a land where the doors must be locked after the Switching Hour, to keep out Badeko, a creature that snatches people away to eat their dreams. When her small brother Kaleb is taken by Badeko, Amaya must journey into the terrifying forest to rescue him.

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

The Switching Hour is about Amaya, who lives with her grandmother, her small brother Kaleb and her pet goat Tau in a land suffering a terrible drought.  Every night, the doors must be locked at twilight, the Switching Hour, because the drought has awoken Badoko, a creature that snatches children away to eat their dreams.  Those left behind are left with The Sorrow Sickness, which takes away the memory of those gone, leaving them with lifelong grief that they don’t understand as the memory has been taken. When Badoko takes Kaleb, Amaya heads into the forest to find her brother before she forgets him. This is where the adventure for her begins, and we see the friendship between her and Mally unfold, who she meets and joins her to help find her brother.

This is a mesmerising story that I couldn’t put down, and it is storytelling at its best. Damaris Young tells it so vividly and beautifully that you can feel and sense the tension and fear Amaya experiences as she searches for her brother. There is also another sadness beneath the main story, as Amaya has lost her mother, and we feel her grief throughout.

The Switching Hour is also a story that has climate change as a core theme. It is a very relevant book to share and read aloud with children, not only because the story is captivating but for the opportunities to discuss the climate issues that are affecting the planet.

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.