Cover image for My brother's shadow
My brother's shadow
Avery, Tom (Children's story writer)
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
161 pages ; 22 cm
Eleven-year-old Kaia, who has felt emotionally isolated since her brother's suicide, befriends a wild boy who mysteriously appears at her London school, finding a way to communicate with him despite his being mute.
General Note:
"Originally published in paperback by Andersen Press Limited, London, in 2014."
Reading Level:
590 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area

On Order



Fans of David Almond's Skellig and Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls will embrace this deeply affecting middle grade novel in which a girl suffering from terrible grief befriends a mysterious wild boy.

When I saw him that first time I screamed--a small and silent scream, all inside, in my gut. Eleven-year-old Kaia, who has felt isolated since her older brother committed suicide more than a year before, befriends a wild boy who mysteriously appears at her London school. Though the boy is mute and can only communicate with a flash of his gray eyes, he might be the friend Kaia needs to bring her through her grief.

Here's a fascinating story, which offers a fresh and completely original portrayal of loss and renewal.

"Readers who love stories of overcoming personal struggles and emotional strife will eat this up." -- Booklist

"Fans of realistic fiction... will surely devour Avery's latest." -- School Library Journal

"[Kaia's] confessional narration and self-aware observations yield a believable and haunting portrait of grief." -- Publishers Weekly

Author Notes

Tom Avery is the author of the middle-grade novel Too Much Trouble, winner of the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children's Book Award. He was born and raised in London in a very large, very loud family, descendants of the notorious pirate Henry Avery. Tom has worked as a teacher in inner-city schools in London and Birmingham, and he lives in North London with his wife and two sons.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ever since Kaia found her older brother dead at home, she has been frozen. So has her mother, though she's since found comfort in a bottle. Kaia lost everything her brother and mother (who she adored), her friends (who now think she's a freak), her teachers (who think she's not trying), and her smile (which her mother used to say was lovely). One day, a wild, gray-eyed, raggedy-clothed boy appears at school. He howls, growls, and leaps around the room, but he never speaks. Kaia is drawn to him, and she is the only person who wonders about his origins. It is with this boy that Kaia feels comfortable enough to open up, thus beginning to work through her deep grief and crack the ice that constricts her. Closure for Kaia remains difficult but perhaps now not insurmountable. Uncomplicated yet potent storytelling renders this an acutely heart-wrenching tale of despondency and renewal in a fresh manner. Readers who love stories of overcoming personal struggles and emotional strife will eat this up.--Fredriksen, Jeanne Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Just over a year ago, 11-year-old Kaia White found her older brother, Moses, dead, and her life has been a "hazy, jagged dream" ever since. Kaia has stopped doing her homework, pushed her friends away, been taunted at school for her distant behavior, and been neglected by her Mum, who loses her job and drinks. Worry consumes Kaia until an unnamed, wild boy appears at school in "dirty, raggedy clothes"; he darts around and speaks only in animal sounds. Despite the fact that the boy never speaks to Kaia, he provides a needed distraction, shaking Kaia out of her "frozen stuck" mind-set and becoming her nonjudgmental confidante and amusing companion. Kaia's road to recovery is paved with a strong interest in trees, a resilient ex-friend, and Moses's remembered "Rules for life" ("Memories are like a cup of tea-don't hold them too tight"). British author Avery (Too Much Trouble) immerses readers in Kaia's heavy thoughts and dreamlike, trapped state. Her confessional narration and self-aware observations yield a believable and haunting portrait of grief. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Kaia is frozen. She has been this way since she found her older brother Moses dead in his bedroom. Her former friends think she's a "freak," her teachers think she's not applying herself, and her mother is frozen herself, stuck in a vicious cycle of despair. Then one day, a wild, silent boy appears at Kaia's school, and she finds someone to whom she can finally relate and open up. This poignant tale of loss and the attempts at closure is poetically recorded, each chapter revealing a bit of the strife that Kaia battles as she struggles to exist in school, to hold on to herself, and to find her way back to the girl she was before her horrendous tragedy. The novel is peppered with Kaia's "Rules for Life," little mantras that slowly evolve and help her to heal as she grows and learns to cope. As the layers of ice she has encased herself in begin to crack, the remarkable girl slowly begins to blossom and she is able to find hope. Avery creates an impressive account of tragedy, and his gentle, melancholic prose establishes the perfect tone for his tale of despair and renewal. Fans of realistic fiction, especially dealing with emotionally jarring, disturbing events, will surely devour Avery's latest.-Ellen Norton, White Oak Library District, Crest Hill, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.