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Raven Summer
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Raven Summer
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A captivating new novel from Printz Award winner David Almond.Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There,...
A captivating new novel from Printz Award winner David Almond.Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There,...
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Description-

  • A captivating new novel from Printz Award winner David Almond.
    Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones—with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby’s parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam’s parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver’s dark past—and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of.

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One 1



    It starts and ends with the knife. I find it in the garden. I'm with Max Woods. We're messing about, digging for treasure, like we did when we were little kids. As always there's nothing but stones and roots and dust and worms. Then there it is, just below the surface, a knife with a wooden handle in a leather sheath. I lever it out of the earth. The curved blade's all tarnished, the handle's filthy, the sheath's blackened and stiff and starting to rot away.

    I laugh in triumph.

    "Treasure at last!"

    "Huh!" says Max. "It's just an old pruning knife."

    "Course it's not! It's from the ancient Romans or the reivers. It's a weapon of war!"

    I hold it up towards the sun.

    "I name thee . . . Death Dealer!" I say.

    Max mutters under his breath and rolls his eyes. I stab the knife into the earth to clean. I wipe it on the grass. I spit on it and rub it. I pick up a stone and try to sharpen it.

    Then a bird flutters onto the grass six feet away.

    "Hello, crow," I say.

    "It's a raven, townie," says Max. He imitates its call. "Jak jak! Jak! Jak jak!"

    The raven bounces, croaks back at him.
    Jak jak! Jak jak!

    "It's after the worms," says Max.

    "No. It's seen something shiny! It's seen Roman gold! There, look!"

    I dig like a maniac for a few daft moments. I stab the earth, plunge the knife deeper. Then my hand slips and blood's pouring out from my wrist. I scream, then laugh at myself and press my finger to the little wound.

    Max mutters again.

    "Sometimes I think you're crackers," he says.

    "Me too," I say.

    We lie in the grass and stare at the sky. It's early summer, hardly more than spring, but the sun's been pouring down for weeks. The ground's baked hard, the grass is already getting scorched. It'll be the hottest summer ever, and the story is they'll keep on getting hotter. The dust and soil's like a crust on my hands and arms. It mingles on my wrist with the dark red of drying blood, just like a painting or a map.

    A low-flying jet thunders over us, then another, then _another.

    "Begone, you beasts!" I call.

    I flourish the knife at them as they streak away southwards over Hadrian's Wall, over the chapel of St. Michael and All Angels and out of sight.

    Then my wound's bleeding again. I'll need a plaster. We get up and head for the house.

    "It's all yours, Jack," I say.

    I expect the bird to hop into the hole, but it doesn't. It flies over us and lands again six feet in front of us, looks at us, then flies a bit further on, lands, and looks at us again.

    "You can tame them, you know," says Max.

    "Aye?"

    "Aye. We had one when I was a squirt. It was great-lived on the back path, begged for food at the door, perched on your wrist. Jak jak! Funnily enough, we called it Jack."

    "What happened to it?"

    "Joe Bolton shot it." He holds the air like he's holding a gun. "Kapow! He said it was trying to nest in his chimney. But I think he just wanted to kill something. Kapow!"

    He waves his arms and runs at it and it flaps up into the sky.

    "Go on! Get lost! Shoo!"

    Inside the house, I find the plasters. I rub some of the dirt off the wound with a bit of kitchen towel, blot the trickling blood, then stick the plaster on. I clean more dirt off the knife blade. I wash it with soap. I sharpen it on the knife sharpener on the kitchen wall. I spray furniture polish on the handle and...

About the Author-

  • David Almond won the Printz Award for his novel, Kit’s Wilderness, and a Printz Honor for Skellig. He lives in England with his partner and their daughter.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 9, 2009
    In a thought-provoking coming-of-age story, British writer Almond (Skellig
    ; Clay
    ) delves into the darkest realm of the human psyche as he expresses the conflicting urges of an adolescent. Liam is walking with a friend when a mysterious raven leads them to an abandoned baby. The boys are lauded for bringing the infant safely home, but Liam doesn’t feel heroic. While he has enormous tenderness for the infant (and a pair of foster children he meets), he is deeply affected by acts of violence: sordid videos sent to him by a classmate, visceral accounts of war, and a local art gallery’s display of disturbing images. His mother dismisses the pictures as “voyeuristic trash,” but his father thinks they may have value: “Maybe they’re showing us how horrible the world is.” Liam’s views vacillate and his morals are tested several times, but never as dramatically as during a final reckoning, when violence seems the only way to save a friend’s life. Almond tackles complex questions about humanity from multiple points of view; flashes of wisdom—sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting—arrive at unexpected moments. Ages 12–up.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2009
    Gr 7-9-Liam lives with his father, a famous writer, and his mother, a photographer, on Britain's Northumbrian coast. One day out wandering with his friend Max, Liam is led by a raven to a baby left with a note and some money. When Liam and his parents visit the infant's foster family, Liam connects immediately with two of the foster children, Crystal, a wild-child girl, and Oliver, a refugee from Liberia. Liam's mother falls in love with the baby, and she comes to live with his family. When Crystal and Oliver run away to Liam's secret hideaway, Oliver reveals his true identity, and Liam is forced to explore the darkest parts of his own soul as he realizes the evil he is capable of doing. "Raven Summer" is set in the recent past against the backdrop of the war in Iraq. It explores how children everywhere are physically and psychologically scarred by violence and brutality that they cannot escape and can be led to do horrible things. Almond's story is a passionate plea for peace, and the putting away of weapons of war. While the question of the book's audience is a valid one, and while there are perhaps a few places where the children seem impossibly wise, and are even perhaps acting as mouthpieces for the author, this book is exquisitely crafted and will make any reader stop and think about the consequences of violence."Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO"

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 15, 2009
    Grades 7-12 *Starred Review* Big issues are front and center in Almonds gripping new novel, told in the present-tense voice of teenage Liam and set in contemporary northern England. War rages in Iraq and elsewhere, and army jets fly low over where he lives. All of us are beasts at heart. . . . We have to help the angel in us to overcome the beast. Yes, the messages are spelled out, but readers will want to talk and argue about them, sparked by the authentic characters and the searing drama of their lives. In spare, stirring words, Liam tells of his tenderness for a foundling baby that his family takes in; his fear and rage about his bullying classmate, Nattrass; and his friendship with a young Liberian asylum seeker, Oliver, who saw soldiers slaughter his family, soldiers who said that God was on their side. Nattrass calls Oliver a terrorist and thinks he should be sent back, as do the immigration officials. Always there is the pull of violence, felt by both children and adults, including tourists who visit ancient castles and other remnants of past wars. Is God a war criminal? The tension builds to a shocking and totally believable ending. Readers will recognize that the murderer in all of us is just below the skin, but the kindness in every chapter is heartbreaking too. A haunting story, perfect for group discussion.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

  • The Horn Book

    January 1, 2010
    It's early in the Iraq War and soldiers are training in the Northumberland countryside--where young Liam finds an abandoned baby. Almond creates a complex, inspired swirl of seemingly disparate elements, including in the mix a Liberian refugee. Despite all the violence, the story has a sweetness to it, fostered by the hope that humans can "help the angel in us overcome the beast."

    (Copyright 2010 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Horn Book

    November 1, 2009
    "The murderer in all of us is just below the skin." Almond's latest entrancingly dark tale explores the tenuous boundary between innocence and evil. Liam and his friend Max are playing outside, digging for treasure in the sun-baked soil of their rural Northumberland home, when they notice a raven that appears to be calling to them. The raven leads them to a ruined farmhouse, where they find an abandoned baby and a note that reads, "Plese look after her rite. This is a childe of God." The mythic nature of these circumstances is tempered by the contemporary time period. It's early in the Iraq War; young British soldiers train for battle in the Northumberland countryside, and a journalist, a native of the region, has recently been taken hostage in Baghdad. Almond creates a complex, inspired swirl of seemingly disparate elements, including in the mix a Liberian foster child who turns out to be "the worst of all victims" -- a boy forced to fight, in his native land, with the rebels who slaughtered his family. In spite of all the violence, implied and also enacted in present-day exchanges between Liam and the neighborhood bully, the story has a sweetness to it, fostered by the hope that human beings can, as Liam's mother phrases it, "help the angel in us overcome the beast."

    (Copyright 2009 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 9, 2009 "Almond tackles complex questions about humanity from multiple points of view; flashes of wisdom--sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting--arrive at unexpected moments"
  • Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2009 "[A] hypnotic, sensuous foray into the nature of war, truth, art and the savagery of humanity."

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    Random House Children's Books
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