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Swan Song

Gill Lewis

Barrington Stoke – published 4th February 2021

There couldn’t be a more perfect book to bring Children’s Mental Health Week to a close.

Swan Song is a profoundly moving story of child and adolescent mental health and the healing power of nature.

‘Dylan is struggling. Since he started grammar school, everything has become too much. Now he’s been permanently excluded, so his mum packs up their lives and moves them to the tiny village in Wales where Grandad lives.

But when Grandad takes Dylan out in his boat to watch the Hooper Swans return to their winter feeding ground, things begin to change. Grandad doesn’t judge or question, he just let’s Dylan be.

Out on the water Dylan begins to feel like himself again. But when the Swans & their habitat are threatened and tragedy strikes at home, can Dylan keep going when everything he cares about starts to slip through his fingers again?’

Swan Song has so many elements that are so close to my heart; well- being, wildlife and the most wonderful story-telling. Blowing away the cobwebs going for walks at our local nature reserve has certainly helped keep my spirits up during lockdown. Now more than ever, urban children need fresh air and nature to rescue them from what can only be likened to a battery-hen existence. Like Dylan, so many young people are sadly being held in captivity inside four walls, developing unhealthy dependencies on gaming and social media.

Beautiful Swans captured on a recent walk at my local Country Park.

If you enjoyed Lisa Thompson’s The House of Clouds (another Barrington Stoke beauty) you will adore Swan Song. Dylan’s story is told with such effortless grace. The closeness that develops between Dylan and Grandad was so touching to read and evoked treasured memories of my own grandparents and the special relationship we had. A grandparent’s unconditional love, patience and the hobbies and interests they share with us as children shape the people we become.

This book sent ripples of emotion straight to my heart throughout. It stirred hazy memories of watching tear-jerker Fly Away Home as a youngster. The journeys for both Dylan, searching for fulfillment and purpose, Grandad coping with grief after the loss of his wife and the swans in finding a new home for the Winter are portrayed with such heartfelt and genuine feeling.

Before becoming an acclaimed author, Gill Lewis worked as a vet, so it’s no surprise animals are central to her books. I need to read Gill’s other books Run Wild & Eagle Warrior, also Barrington Stoke & The Closest Thing To Flying.

Barrington Stoke just get better & better! They are consistently my go-to publisher for high interest, quality texts at novella length – a must for every classroom.

With thanks to BarringtonStoke for my proof copy.

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