The Song of Lewis Carmichael


Publication Date: 31 Aug. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781760878573

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    Matthew stood on the snowy peak and stared out at the world spread before him. Every picture in his books had been limited by the size of the page, contained within frames. Here, there was no frame. Here, the picture didn't end. Beyond those icy plains, the sea, and beyond the sea, a land that floated on the ice, drifting northwards. Matthew put the binoculars to his eyes and saw valleys and cliffs and rivers all made of snow. Everywhere was white.

    Matthew has dreamed and read and thought about the North Pole for as long as he can remember. And he has done it secretly. It is a place that cannot be tarnished by the world in which he lives - a world in which he struggles to find answers and make friends, while everything seems to come easily to other children.

    But one day, a crow called Lewis Carmichael lands at Matthew's window - a crow who believes in Matthew in the most simple and ordinary ways. Soon, the unexpected voyage of a lifetime begins, and it will change everything...

    An unforgettable adventure story from award-winning children's book author Sofie Laguna, with enchanting illustrations by Marc McBride.

    Information

    Book Type: Junior Chapter
    Age Group: 8 to 12 years
    Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 5/5

    Review

    When a crow with a broken wing taps on Matthew's window one night and invites him on a journey to the Arctic. The crow is called Lewis Carmichael and Matthew--thinking he is in a dream--agrees. He has long been fascinated with the North Pole and pores over books of people who have been there. He especially loves the photos of the scenery and the wild animals.

    After climbing out his bedroom window, Matthew finds a hot air balloon waiting for him, with enough supplies for the journey and a three-day stay, plus warm clothes and boots.

    Matthew and Lewis arrive in the North Pole and explore the terrain. They meet a mother polar bear and her cub, who Matthew helps by removing a walrus task from its paw. They also see reindeer and walruses as well as a great variety of birds, which saddens Lewis Carmichael as he misses being able to fly. Before they leave, Matthew is determined to see the arctic wolves.

    Matthew persistently hears a baby crying and believes he must rescue it. But the baby is a figment of his imagination, coming from his mistaken belief that his parents are disappointed with him and want a baby. In the end, he is rescued by the mother polar bear he had helped and by Lewis, who is fatally injured in the process. Matthew is left alone in the Arctic. His supplies have been depleted by another polar bear who also damaged the spare gas cylinder for the balloon. Exhausted from the dramas, he falls asleep.

    When he eventually wakes up, Matthew discovers the balloon is being carried by a flock of snow geese who deliver him back to the roof of his house. His parents are very relieved to have him back home, although to them, he has only been gone for one day. Lewis did tell him time works differently in the Arctic--supposedly because all the longitudinal lines begin there. Matthew realises his parents really do love him and don't want to replace him. He tells them not to worry so much about him.

    This is a well-told narrative with beautiful descriptions and illustrations. It's a lovely story of friendship, resilience and imagination.

    Matthew's adventure helps him to overcome his fear and reticence, and he returns home braver and more self-assured, having learnt many different skills along the way. Lewis Carmichael's self-sacrifice makes this story about friendship and bravery all the more powerful. Highly recommended.

    Themes

    North Pole, Arctic, Arctic wildlife, friendship, resilience, imagination, family, self-sacrifice, courage, belonging

    Content Notes

    The crow, Lewis Carmichael, dies. In his final words, the crow comforts Matthew, telling him not to blame himself and that change is inevitable.

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