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The Final Year

Book Synopsis

See that tall, skinny kid with the ball in his hand

sayin see ya later to his mate?

That’s me:

Nathan Wilder


10 years old

and a week away from the end of Year 5.

Life can be tough in your last year of primary school. Tests to take, preparing for the change to high school. Nate is ready for it all, knowing his best friend PS is at his side – they’ve been inseparable since Nursery.

But when they are put in two different classes and PS finds a new friend in Turner, the school bully, Nate’s world turns upside-down. As he struggles to make sense of this and forge new friendships, he’s dealt another blow when his youngest brother, Dylan is rushed into hospital.

His new teacher, Mr Joshua, sees a spark inside of Nate that’s lit by his love of reading and writing and shows him how to use this to process what’s going on. But with so much working against him, and anger rising inside him, will this be enough?

A powerful and lyrical story about finding your place in the world and the people that matter within it.

Our Review Panel says...

This is an extraordinary verse novel about the final year of primary school, told through poetry. The verse captures the character of Year 6 pupil Nate as he navigates issues of school, family illness, emotions, change and friendships. Year 6 is a difficult year for many children and whilst they are unlikely to have it quite as difficult as Nate, the book still captures some of that flavour, including the run-up to SATs, friendship issues and anxiety during a time when a sense of big changes is in the air.

Through his powerful verses, ex-primary school teacher Matt Goodfellow pays testament to the impact of a great teacher in supporting pupils through this time as well as the power of words and writing to help manage big emotions. Joe Todd Stanton’s drawings add to the text, with the simple drawings softening the harshness of the story’s real-world themes. The cover is striking, and I was instantly reminded of Skellig by David Almond, which is referenced throughout the book.

Whilst I read this in one go (I simply couldn’t put it down) it is not an ‘easy’ read in many ways and it is a very emotional story. I also think that it will take a mature child to ‘read between the lines’ and understand the text at a deeper level, even in Year 6. Believe the hype and the praise, this book is every bit as good as everyone is saying.

This book is available on these booklists:

Teaching Resource: The Final Year

A resource pack provided by National Poetry Day based on ‘At the End of the Day’ – one of the poems from The Final Year.

The Final Year

the final year

Book Details

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