A. F. Harrold (text), Levi Pinfold (illus.), The Song From Somewhere Else, Bloomsbury/Allen & Unwin, Dec 2016, 240pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781408853368
Books are full of stories- woven ideas. Occasionally, however, you’ll get a book that isn’t just woven ideas, but a woven tapestry. The Song From Somewhere Else was one of those books.
Frank is used to being bullied by Neil Noble and his gang. She doesn’t like it, nor accept it, but she’s used to it by now. So when Nick Underbridge rescues her one day, she doesn’t know what to think. No one likes Nick at school. He’s big, and weird, and smells all funny.
But because he rescued her, she goes to his house, just for a bit, because it’s summer holidays, and her best friend is away, and what other option does she have?
And then she hears the music. Music coming from somewhere in his house, music that lifts her up and spins her around and makes her feel lighter and happier than she has in months.
So she goes back to the house, and to Nick, and to the music. But there’s more to the house, and to her new friend, than Frank can see. And soon enough, it might become clear that Frank isn’t the only with with problems, nor the only one who needs help.
The Song from Somewhere Else isn’t a traditional children’s book, and will appeal more to children with creative minds than those who love a bit of action and adventure. The ideas and ideals explored in the book include those of bullying, unexpected friendship, and a kind-of-not-quite-nearly-magic. This is a book celebrating childhood and growing up, and learning that what is ‘cool’, isn’t always what is going to make you feel best about yourself.
Frank herself is also a bit of an unusual main character. For a start, the only thing that you know about her is that her name is Francesca Patel. What she looks like? That’s entirely up to the reader and their imagination, in the spirit of the story. Frank also has conversations with her stomach, which tells her that almost everything is a bad idea, and sure to end badly. And even though it occasionally does, Frank also learns that sometimes listening to her heart, instead of her mind/stomach, will take her on the adventure she finds in this tale.
The novel is filled with gorgeous black and white sketches by Levi Pinfold, which are heart-wrenching beautiful and accentuate the story pointedly. Some of the illustrations, partly due to their black and white nature but also the nature of parts of the story, are a little dark and somewhat menacing, which makes the book not entirely appropriate for very young readers.
Overall, The Song From Somewhere Else will largely appeal to creative minded/more mature children of ages from 9 to 13 or 14 years old.
A moving, heartfelt story about growing up and finding yourself in a world without enough magic. Highly Recommended
Reviewed by Amy Cooper