The Colour Of The Sun by David Almond

The Blurb On The Back:

One hot summer morning, Davie steps boldly out of his front door.  The world he enters is very familiar – the little Tyneside town that has always been his home – but as the day passes, it becomes ever more dramatic and strange.

A boy has been killed, and Davie thinks he might know who is responsible.  He turns away from the gossip and excitement and sets off roaming towards the sunlit summit at the top of the town, where the real and imaginary world begin to blur.

Davie sees things on the hillside that show him that amongst immorality, there can be kindness and in darkness, there is a chance for hope.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Davie lives with his mum in a town in the north east of England (his dad died some months earlier).  On a hot summer morning, he leaves his house with the haversack his dad got from his time in the army filled with a selection of his childhood toys and a warm bara brith baked by his mum.  But his journey begins with the discovery that Jimmy Killen (an older boy) has been murdered, his body lies in the rubble of the old church hall. Davie thinks he knows who did it – Zorro Craig – because everyone knows that the Killens hate the Craigs (and vice versa) and Jimmy and Zorro were arguing over a girl.  Instead of staying to hear the gossip though, he decides to head out of town into the hills, his route bringing him into contact with neighbours both young and old, the Killens and the Craigs and a reconciliation with his childhood and the father he’s so recently lost …

David Almond’s coming-of-age novel for children aged 11+ is a dreamy mix of historical fiction and supernatural overtones that combines Almond’s marvellous ear for north eastern dialect with a simple plot that’s about Davie and his journey both emotional and literal and which I think offers a lot for readers who are young and old alike and confirms Almond’s place as one of the greats of modern children’s literature.

Davie is a character who I think a lot of younger readers would relate to – caught between wanting to put aside the toys he played with when he was younger and being interested in girls.  He cuts quite a solitary figure in the book, drifting away from his best friend Gosh and rejecting offers to hang out, even keen to push away the dog that follows him on his journey.  I really enjoyed the encounters that he has with the other residents of his town, especially the one-legged Wilf Pew who keeps showing up to offer unsolicited advice and wine gums and also Paddy, the local priest who is having a crisis of faith.

There’s an unspecified historical facet to the book (there’s a reference to his dad having fought in a war, no one has mobile phones and there’s a reference to having to get police in from Newcastle), which I enjoyed precisely because Almond doesn’t pin anything down, which adds to the air of “otherness” about it.  This is reinforced by a supernatural element to the story, which I won’t spoil but which I found very moving.  I also love the fact that Almond uses north eastern dialect in this book, which reinforces the sense of place and grounds his characters and their situation.

All in all I thought this was a well put together story that offers readers something unique and interesting and reinforces Almond’s place as one of the greats of modern children’s literature.

THE COLOUR OF THE SUN was released in the United Kingdom on 3rdMay 2018.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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