Book of the Week: The Song From Somewhere Else

Book of the Week: The Song From Somewhere Else

xthe-song-from-somewhere-else-jpg-pagespeed-ic-1pixdsbcluWe loved A.F. Harrold’s The Imaginary, and we excited to learn he had a new book on the way. This time Harrold has teamed up with illustrator Levi Pinfold and the result, The Song From Somewhere Else, is a breathtaking novel for ages 8-12.

When we first meet Frank, she is feeling concerned. In her heart of hearts, she’s scared her missing cat, the excellently named Quintilius Minimus, might never come back. As she’s putting up ‘missing cat’ posters, Frank is ambushed by the school bullies, and her mind (and legs) turn to jelly. We get our first real look into Frank’s mind – and we can relate.

Frank’s rescuer comes from a very unexpected place. Nick Underbridge is the least popular boy in their class, mocked by everyone because he’s different. When he and Frank attempt to escape the bullies together, they end up running back at the Underbridge home, where Frank’s adventure really begins. Frank feels weird about hanging out with the big, kinda strange kid that everyone calls ‘Stinker,’ but as she’s getting ready to make a hasty retreat, Frank hears some music. It’s beautiful, and like nothing she has ever heard before. Although she runs home, Frank can’t shake the haunting melody.

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Soon Frank is drawn back to the Underbridge home, and into an unexpected (especially to her) friendship with the gentle giant Nick. Before long she learns the secret to the mysterious music, and to Nick, and Frank soon realises the world is a very different place – and that she is braver than she ever thought possible.

“And eventually the worlds shifted apart, the window faded away and the music moved beyond the limits of Frank’s hearing, and the two of them were sat in the dim cellar in friendly silence. The stony, earthy forest floor smell filled her lungs like lemonade, as harmless stray shadows curled in the corner like mice. This was turning out to be one strange summer holiday, Frank thought.”

This book really surprised us. At some moments it’s quite dark – anyone who has ever been bullied will find their heart in their throat – and at others, so tender it will bring a tear to your eye. A.F. Harrold clearly also has a wicked sense of humour (you can see more of it in our interview with him here), which peeks through in The Song From Somewhere Else from time to time, especially inside Frank’s head.

songfromsomewhereelse6We loved Frank as a character, she feels genuine and flawed, and even at times unsympathetic – we see that in her head, she’s been just as mean to Nick as the other kids, and she makes choices we as readers may certainly disagree with. Yet as the story progresses we watch Frank come into her own, learn some of Nick’s kindness and find her inner courage. Nick remains steadfast in his generosity and warmth, and their friendship grows into something very special.

The emotions in the book are echoed beautifully in Pinfold’s perfectly utilised black and white illustrations throughout. They create a surreal atmosphere, especially as the story takes a mystical turn, and help the character’s emotions to pack a serious punch. We spoke to Levi Pinfold about his process of illustrating the book, his distinctive style and more here.

It’s challenging to describe just how magical The Song From Somewhere Else is. Not only does it have an almost surreal story with a very genuine heroine, but Pinfold’s atmospheric illustrations really bring Harrold’s imaginative world to life. This quirky, wonderful book would make a great gift for older readers aged 8-12, and is a real testament to the power of friendship, family, and fantasy.

 

Learn more or purchase a copy of The Song From Somewhere Else, or read our interviews with author A.F. Harrold and illustrator Levi Pinfold!

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(all images credited to Levi Pinfold)

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Synopsis

Frank doesn't know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He's big, he's weird and he smells - or so everyone in Frank's class thinks.And yet, there's something nice about Nick's house. There's strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever.But there's more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn't the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help .A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it. Written by the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Levi Pinfold, this is perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.
Levi Pinfold
About the author

Levi Pinfold

Levi Pinfold has been drawing from imagination for as long as he can remember. His published picture books are The Django, Black Dog and Greenling. Black Dog won the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2013. Born in the Forest of Dean, he has somehow found himself living in northern NSW, Australia. He likes paintings, books, music, and some cats.

Books by Levi Pinfold

A. F. Harrold
About the author

A. F. Harrold

A.F. Harrold is an English poet (1975 - present). He writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. He was Glastonbury Festival Website's Poet-In-Residence in 2008, and Poet-In-Residence at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010. He won the Cheltenham All Stars Slam Championship in 2007 and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7. He is active in schools work, running workshops and slams and doing performances at ungodly hours of the morning, and has published several collections of poetry. He is the owner of many books, a handful of hats, a few good ideas and one beard.

Books by A. F. Harrold

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  1. Jimmy says:

    I am reading this book and I love it