My Lockdown Books: Two

Today’s book is Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay, one of the Casson family series.  This was the first one I read and I enjoyed it so much the I bought the entire series!  Each of the books is told from the perspective of one of the siblings in this somewhat unusual family and deals with worries and joys that particularly affect them.  The books all stand alone quite happily but together they tell an unfolding family story.

Indigo is the only boy in the family (they’re named after paint colours) and often feels overwhelmed.  Bullied at school, he’s dreading returning after illness but a new boy in the class changes the dynamic.  Tom becomes entwined in Casson family life but he too has his problems.

Hilary McKay is a superb writer and confident enough to write realistically.  Life in the Casson household is complex; there are real and imagined problems large and small.  And there’s no facile resolution.  This honesty combined with appealing, layered characters means that the books are grounded in a world that children (and older readers too) can believe in and relate to.

The Skylarks’ War by Hilary MacKay

I’m already an admirer of Hilary McKay’s writing so it wasn’t a stretch for the publisher (Macmillan) to get me to read a proof of The Skylarks’ War.  Quite simply, it is the best book I have read by Hilary.  She has excelled herself .

Set in the early part of the twentieth century, it is a wonderful piece of writing about love, loyalty, friendship and war.  Clarry, Peter, Rupert, Simon and Vanessa are superb, well-rounded characters with flaws and failings, feelings and fears who interact in the complex ways of human beings.  The story is engrossing and involving and un-put-downable!  I read it almost without stopping, desperate to know how things would be resolved – or not.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.