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Voyage of the Sparrowhawk

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk

Published: 3 Sep 2020

Paperback / softback, 368 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Natasha Farrant

Published by Faber & Faber

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Lotti's horrible aunt and uncle want to send her away to boarding-school (when she has just so successfully managed to get expelled from her last one!) And Clara, their young teacher, is waiting for news of her missing fiance. Just as they think they've found their feet in the new order, disaster strikes, and Lotti and Ben must get away.

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk is a story, which takes place in the aftermath of World War One, about a girl called Lotti and a boy called Ben. Lotti is running away from her horrible uncle and aunt to avoid being sent to another awful boarding school. Ben, to avoid being sent back to the orphanage, needs to find his older brother Sam, missing in action in France. A friendship is formed when Ben finds Lotti hiding on Sparrowhawk, the barge Ben has lived on with his brother. This is the start of an incredible journey to France on Sparrowhawk, dodging everyone chasing them and with help from the friendships found along the way. There are police chases, a storm when crossing the channel, puppies being born along the way and the hope of finding lost loved ones at the end. No spoilers here from me!

The fact that there are so many stories of different characters within this story, written by Natasha Farrant (Eight Princesses an a Magic Mirror), that link and overlap beautifully throughout also contribute to make this such a rich, page-turning read. At all times the story surprises and keeps you guessing. There is a rich thread of themes running throughout too. These are friendship, kindness, bravery, determination and working together to make things happen.

I loved this book and found it very hard to put down. It would be a great book to read aloud. It could also prompt questions about WW1 and what it must have been like to lose loved ones, alongside discussing all the themes mentioned above. Natasha Farrant has such a great style of writing for this kind of exciting adventure story and has created such wonderful characters, that I would love to read a follow-up to Voyage of the Sparrowhawk.

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.