Davie is in bed, hiding in the shadows behind his bedroom curtains. Aching from the recent death of his father, a bright future seems an impossibility. But change is a-coming and the extraordinary events of one summer’s day in a northern English town will set this sad boy on a quest to find a murder suspect and rekindle his own vital spark. Laced with the supernatural, David Almond’s latest offering is an enigmatic tale. You’re in for a spellbinding treat.
We begin with a riff on the classic feuding families theme, one young man seemingly knifed to death by a member from a rival family. Davie’s sure he knows who did it, and sets off into the hills to track him down.
As he heads towards the sunlit uplands, Davie encounters a series of intriguing characters with their own tales to tell. A doubting priest, a one-legged man with wise words, two storytelling ladies in a garden of glowing dahlias. What is their significance?
Maybe a runaway killer is not all Davie will find on this dazzling hot day. His journey is across a landscape once disturbed by mine-working. Now reclaimed by Mother Nature, it is a blaze of colour, sight and sound. The drone of the bees in the sultry air and the heady scent of the flowers lulls Davie into a reverie and we can no longer be sure what is real.
‘He walks through everything today as if through a dream, as if through an unfolding tale.’
A radiant and steady sunlight follows this ‘boy-becoming-man’, and we understand that he needs its healing properties, to burn away the visions of his ‘shrunken, gasping’ dad, the coffin, the black car.
The strange encounters, vibrant landscape, and Davie’s own creative spirit helps to bring resolution to this profound story. The Colour of the Sun is one of those few children’s books that transcend genre. The writing is so beautiful that it moved me to tears several times.
A privilege to read.
The Colour of the Sun by David Almond is published by Hodder’s Childrens Books, 240 pages.