‘Granda’s words came to her again. Create a better world. That was what they had to do now’.
Bonnie lives with her Granda by the coast in an area patrolled by border guards who prevent anyone coming or going and soon take an interest in Bonnies repeated absences from school, which is time she spends scouring the seashore for anything useful washed ashore, focused on her and Granda’s survival.
On one such visit to the Seashore Bonnie happens across a boat and when she returns the next day to collect it meets a boy called Ish, who owns the boat and has journeyed there by mistake but is now to weak and injured from his journey to leave.
In an act of true courage Bonnie ignores all rules set by the Border Guards and offers to help Ish, escorting him to the safety of her Grandas outhouse, sneaking food and items of comfort to him regularly, and keeping his presence a secret entirely.
This leads to the pair trusting and caring for each other which becomes vital when the Border Guards announce they are searching all sheds and outhouses looking for a man that has crossed the border illegally. What follows is a series of events that ultimately lead to Ish intending to set sail, and giving Bonnie the choice to go with him too.
The House of Light is an instantly immersive book, inviting the reader into a beautiful coastal setting alongside a strong female lead character in Bonnie. It is clear that she has a good set of morales and is very courageous, making her a great role model for young audiences. A hugely significant part of Bonnie’s life is her Granda who has bought her up alone since Bonnies mum left in a boat to start her life elsewhere, and the bond between Granda and Bonnie is portrayed beautifully by Author Julia Green and reflects their closeness exquisitely, celebrating the unique bond children have with grandparents.
This really is the most alluring story, with a most pertinent ending. Throughout reading the story I found myself hoping that everything would work out a certain way and I got goosebumps when I realised the ending was going to stay true to the characters and all that was special about the story itself, confirming that The House of Light is everything I love about childrens literature.
Definitely a title I would recommend for school libraries to stock, and that readers of chapter books will thoroughly enjoy, and not forgetting that To the Edge of the World is another of Julia Green’s children’s book titles that features adventure boats and birds, a worthy suggestion to those yet to have enjoyed it.
Publication date – 30.05.19 RRP £6.99 (PB)