Little Bits of Sky, from debut author S. E. Durrant, is a gem of a novel pulling you in from the very first lines,
‘This is the story of a time when my life turned upside down. Not that it was the right way up before,’
… then doesn’t let you go until you reach the end. And even then, it lingers on in the way that beautifully written books do. They stay with you.
Little Bits of Sky, aimed at readers aged 9+, is a novel with a huge soft heart at its core. Ira tells the tale of a few years in the life of herself and her younger brother Zac, a time when they were alone in a huge dark world and that moment when a little bit of light came peaking through.
It is 1987, they both live in Skilly House. They are care kids in a place they never ‘felt entirely comfortable’ – the house is full of dark corners, loud noises and a history they don’t quite understand.
When a charity organises for them both to go on holiday to the country, for the first time ever – they are both excited and nervous. Durrant brilliantly captures Ira’s trepidation, her keenness for Miss Freeman (Martha) to accept them, like them and maybe even ask them back.
‘I took such a deep breath I felt dizzy.’
Whilst the house itself appears old, tired and faded, the gardens offer up a freedom and delight that the children haven’t experienced before. The three of them gradually get used to each other, sensitively finding their way. Durrant captures this so acutely.
All three of them gradually feel their way through this new relationship, but, when Zac boards a coach for London and finds himself in the midst of the Poll Tax March, has he spoilt everything??
Katie Harnett’s illustrations appear at the beginning of every chapter. Her pencil sketch style reflects Ira’s interest in art and drawing, which is carefully nurtured by Martha.
Durrant’s wonderful tone pulls the readers into the lives of Ira and Zac, the plot twists beautifully and gently with some breath holding moments tucked in. Little Bits of Sky is a fabulous novel for 9+ readers to sink into.
Read more about how Katie Harnett designed the book cover here.