Julia and the Shark

Publisher: Orion (Hachette)

Julia and her parents have just left their home to spend the summer at a remote lighthouse, far away from anyone they know. Whilst Julia’s Dad is there for work, her marine biologist Mum is there for another reason – she wants to study the elusive Greenland shark, said to live in the waters nearby.

As Julia settles into their summer, her mother’s search for the shark becomes more and more frantic -  she’s running out of time before they have to go home, but her obsession with the creature is beginning to pull her family apart. When Julia decides to save her family, she embarks on a journey through darkness and hope to find her mother again.

From the local bully with a painful secret to the hidden beauty in the night sky, Julia learns over her summer on the island that everyone has their own story to tell – and that it takes kindness and understanding to hear them.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s captivating story of family, love, and mental illness is complemented by unusual yellow and black, often abstract, illustrations by Tom De Freston. Translucent pages cover, and reveal, secret words and drawings hidden in the depths of the ocean, whilst other shadowy images appear hiding under the bed or against the wall in the shape of the shark threatening to swallow Julia’s family.

Julia’s mother’s mental health issues are never diagnosed in the story and instead are only seen and described through the eyes of Julia - who will do anything to make her feel safe and loved. In turns beautiful, uplifting, and immersive, this is a perfect read for fans of David Almond’s Skellig or Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls.

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