Monday 23 January 2023

The Night Animals by Sarah Ann Jukes Book Review

 Those of you that take the time to read the posts on my blog will know that I am a firm believer that any book is there to be read and enjoyed by anybody. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy stories that are seemingly aimed at a younger reader. Even more so when I think that the children in my class at school will appreciate too.

One such book that I had the pleasure of perusing was The Night Animals by Sarah Ann Jukes. 

Beautifully illustrated by the award-winning Sharon King-Chai, this is Sarah's second middle grade novel and it is one that is fully engaging from the first page.


Nora's mum has good days and bad days, but the bad days are getting worse.  It's been just the two of them for always, and they don't need anyone else.  When the rainbow-shimmering ghost animals Nora used to see when she was small start to reappear, she's convinced that they hold all the answers.  Along with new friend Kwame, Nora follows a glittering ghostly fox, hare, raven and otter on the adventure of a lifetime, helping her to find the strength she needs to help her family.

This is a story that will pull at your heart strings.

We follow Nora as she bravely follows ghost animals (as well as her own) whilst also trying to help her mum battle her own demons.

This young girl is unfortunately struggling to deal with her mums condition - post traumatic stress disorder - but when ghost animals begin to appear in the forms of a Fox, a Hare, a Raven and an Otter, it became apparent to me as the reader that this all part of a coping mechanism. 

These stunning creatures take Nora on what I'd describe as a journey of discovery. And the further she travels, the more she begins to realise that she doesn't need to be alone. 

Rich in vivid descriptions, this is a tale that is compassionate and poignant.

With talk of PTSD, panic attacks and bullying, Jukes does a sensitive job of exploring grief in different forms within families and friendships.

Mental illness is a topic that I feel still needs to be talked about a lot more, especially within the younger generation and this book highlights these struggles in a way that is relatable and not at all patronising.

A real feature for me was the growing friendship between Nora and Kwame. The bond that they formed was sweet. An unlikely duo that together proved that you don't all need to be the same, you just have to be willing to listen. 

The main message that I took away from the story is that we should all feel able to ask for help. It isn't something to ashamed of needing assistance in some shape or form. We all need a reliable shoulder to lean on every once in a while.

And the courage that was needed in this tale grew with every turn of the page.

The Night Animals is filled with hope and healing. Along with the illustrations, it is a beautiful story that was ultimately like a hug in a book.

Now along with the tour, I was able to ask Sarah a question and she has kindly replied in the video below. Please take a look to see what she has to say.

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