By David Almond
This is a story about taking charge of your life (and fish!). It follows the story of young Stan and his journey to discovering the Stan he is destined to be.
The tale begins in his Stan’s home with his Aunt and Uncle. They live in a shipbuilding town, in a time when the main industry and provider of work is in decline . His Uncle tries to solve their problems by opening a fish canning factory in his home. He becomes so absorbed and crazed by this money making scheme that he does something so terrible that he drives our hero to run away.
Stan meets his destiny in the quirky world of a travelling fair. Here his hard working and gentle nature help to change the outlook of his adopted family from a downbeat and can’t be bothered attitude to a more gentle and sunnier outlook . Whilst working the hook a duck stall he meets with the legendary Pancho Pirelli who recognises a young himself in Stan inviting him to put his life in his own hands and fulfil his destiny.
The book generally kept a good pace, but was slow in parts. The ending of this story provided a heart warming feeling of hope that if we take risks and work hard, then maybe we can achieve what we desire. Stan is a nice, strong and likeable character, with the villains being a group of heavy handed men with clip boards who do not like anything fishy or strange.
In a bold move the author invites the reader to decide if these villains should have their just desserts, and encourages one to look at the rest of the world and imagine the lives of many different people. While this fits the flow of the book I found it wanting and would have like a more formal ending so I could know a little more of Stan and his life. Perhaps there is room for a sequel?
Overall I thought this was a nice heart warming story with a good message. However, I think there were areas which could have been explored more and am a little disappointed that I am left wanting for more meat on this story.
Buy this book at Hive Books
Review by Claire Lyons