BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: By Ash, Oak and Thorn (available here)
Author: Melissa Harrison
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: May 2021
Most Suitable for: Years 3-6
A beautiful story of magic, friendship and the power of nature, By Ask Oak and Thorn is the children’s debut from Costa Award-shortlisted nature writer, Melissa Harrison.
If you’ve ever stared in awe at the complexity of a mighty tree and allowed yourself to wonder if creatures beyond our knowledge might dwell in its branches, or even wondered hopefully whether there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, this book will validate each and every one of those secret, imaginative musings. The story follows the adventure of three tiny, funny, eternal beings – also known as the Hidden Folk. When the trio wake from winter hibernation one year in their cherished ash tree home, things don’t go as expected. Their beautiful home becomes destroyed, and the three set off on an adventure to find others like them. They journey through town and country, greeted along the way by a series of friendly and not-so-friendly animals. Will they ever find a place to call home – and are they really the last ones of their kind left?
At the heart of the story are the themes of survival and the consequences of not protecting the natural world. The magical elements add so much fun to the plot and help children to connect with the broader themes, gently provoking questions about how much human actions have consequences beyond what we immediately see. Writer Melissa Harrison explains, ‘Stories were a crucial way in which I connected with nature as a little girl, imaginatively and emotionally….I wanted to write something that was accessible and inclusive, funny and magical – that didn’t prioritise the countryside over the city, and that allowed children to understand that other creatures are as real as they are – that humans are not the only actors on the stage.’
This would make a fabulous read-aloud for children aged 7-10, and will resonate well with anyone who loved the worlds of tiny people in The Borrowers, The Minpins or Toby Alone. The story sings of the wonders of nature on almost every page, and gives a gentle plea for humans to take conservation more seriously. An extract is available to read here.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending us a review copy. Follow along with the other stops on the blog tour for more about the book.
Where next? >
Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.