Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis

Hello everyone, this first review for September comes from a title that moved me to tears at every page. The relationship between the young siblings is one that will always stay with me. The younger sibling is autistic in this story, and on reading it I gained more insight into the condition. I hope this title moves you the way it did me.

Scarlet Ibis large red ibis flying in faded sky girl and boy in park underneath
An emotional story

Title: Scarlet Ibis

Author: Gill Lewis

Publication details: Oxford University Press; UK; 2014

ISBN: 9780192793553

What this book is about: The corners of Red’s eyes crinkle as he smiles. ‘And we’ll always be together?’ ‘Always,’ I say. ‘Just you and me in that little boat, as evening falls, watching the scarlet ibis flying back to the Caroni Swamp.’ Scarlet’s used to looking after her brother Red. He’s special – different. Every night she tells him his favourite story – about the day they’ll fly far away to the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad, where thousands of birds fill the sky. But when Scarlet and Red are split up and sent to live apart, Scarlet knows she’s got to do whatever it takes to get her brother back.

My review: An amazing, magical story. Every single chapter had me hooked, something kept happening and it took all of me to stop and do my day to day chores, even sleep!! The description of young Red’s autism gave me better insight and made me realise something: they are extremely unique in their own way. The author’s note at the end about how there are kids in the UK who have to become primary carers for the rest of the family and miss their own childhood got me right in the gut. I love Gill Lewis’ use of imagery in this story. The idea of human migrations being similar to those of animals such as birds was an amazing analogy. Human migrations that occur either through choice or enforced displacement was another point she made to bring home the aspect of belonging. When she describes how ‘home’ doesn’t have to be the actual house you live in but where you call ‘home’, where you belong, your place in the world; was an emotional point. I just loved this story and the way it was written. Just beautiful!! Gill Lewis is an author to look out for. 

My rating: 5 ⭐

Additional notes: This title has won Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction in 2015. 

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