We’ve enjoyed reading… Brock by Anthony McGowan

By Chris Jarosh
Book cover for Brock by Anthony McGowan

Brock by Anthony McGowan

The team of quiz writers and editors working on Accelerated Reader quizzes read an awful lot of books. From time to time, a particular book or series stands out from the crowd as deserving of special mention. These are books that have been a pleasure to work on, and which we feel will be a great asset to libraries, classrooms and children’s bedrooms.

Recently, we’ve enjoyed reading… Brock by Anthony McGowan. Brock has widely been compared to A Kestrel for a Knave, the 1960s Barry Hines novel about a young lad and his unlikely bond with a bird of prey. There is a similarly Northern feel to the story, although it is badgers rather than birds that begin to transform the protagonist’s life. Nicky has a tough lot in life; with his mother off the scene and his dad facing jail time, Nicky has to look after his little brother Kenny. Then he witnesses a cruelly violent attack on a badger sett.

The storytelling is excellent, as you would expect from a writer of McGowan’s calibre. A pacey plot doesn’t leave the reader bored but builds atmosphere and suspense to draw you deeper into the story. All of Barrington Stoke’s books are written specifically for struggling and reluctant readers, meaning that the words used and sentence structure are relatively simple to comprehend. Brock does not suffer as a result of these limitations of form; in fact, McGowan seems to thrive with a sparse writing style evoking the bleak landscape of the book’s setting.

Brock has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, the first time a book from Barrington Stoke has achieved this accolade. The quality of literature for older reluctant readers has been increasing markedly in recent years and it was only a matter of time before they achieved recognition alongside more conventional novels for young people. Brock is a fitting breakthrough title, though, and fully deserves to progress much further in the Carnegie award.

What our quiz writer says

Louise Ansell, the quiz writer who worked on the AR Reading Practice quiz, had this to say about Brock:

I am thrilled that a gritty realistic book by the forerunners of dyslexic-friendly fiction Barrington Stoke has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Brock emotionally challenges and actively engages the reader when the protagonist Nicky witnesses a terrible act of destruction and the senseless, horrific killing of an innocent animal.

The text is one that will promote lively debate among teens and will be popular with either boys or girls. I hope to see McGowan being awarded the Carnegie Medal next year for a brilliantly written text that should be on every secondary school library book shelf.

This is a thought provoking text and I thoroughly enjoyed quizzing it.

Brock | Barrington Stoke | 978-1-78112-208-2 | MY | BL 4.4 | Quiz #224874

Posted on 18 November 2013 at 10:57 am
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