MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Raven Summer by David Almond

Raven Summer

by David Almond

Raven Summer by David Almond X
Raven Summer by David Almond
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2009, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2011, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A captivating novel for teens from Printz Award-winner David Almond.

Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones - with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby's parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam's parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver's dark past - and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of.

1

It starts and ends with the knife. I find it in the garden. I'm with Max Woods. We're messing about, digging for treasure, like we did when we were little kids. As always there's nothing but stones and roots and dust and worms. Then there it is, just below the surface, a knife with a wooden handle in a leather sheath. I lever it out of the earth. The curved blade's all tarnished, the handle's filthy, the sheath's blackened and stiff and starting to rot away.

I laugh in triumph.

"Treasure at last!"

"Huh!" says Max. "It's just an old pruning knife."

"Course it's not! It's from the ancient Romans or the reivers. It's a weapon of war!"

I hold it up towards the sun.

"I name thee... Death Dealer!" I say.

Max mutters under his breath and rolls his eyes. I stab the knife into the earth to clean. I wipe it on the grass. I spit on it and rub it. I pick up a stone and try to sharpen it.

Then a bird flutters onto the grass six feet away.

"Hello, crow," I say.

"It's a raven, townie," says Max. He imitates ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Begin a discussion regarding the major themes in the story, such as abandonment, violence, brutality, war, loss of innocence, resilience, the nature of art, fate, and truth. Challenge students to describe and discuss passages from the book that present these themes. Discuss how particular characters are associated with the themes.

  2. The first line of Raven Summer reads: "It starts and ends with the knife." The knife is just one symbol that appears in this story. Discuss other examples of symbolism (the raven, Nattrass, fighter jets, skin, the snakes in the pit, Allison) and what they represent. Discuss how the author uses these and other symbols to convey the story's major themes.

  3. Discuss how Liam grapples with feelings of ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The question of what is real and what is imaginary is at the heart of David Almond's stark and poetic novel, Raven Summer... How do children separate what is real and what is imagined? If something imaginary provokes something real, does that make the imaginary thing real too? Are children born innocent and does the landscape upon which they grow create their violence? Or are we born with violence inherently coursing through our veins? ...By skillfully and intentionally layering Raven Summer with multiple through-lines... David Almond creates a stunning portrait of what war and violence can do to the heart, mind, and body of a child...continued

Full Review (571 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Tamara Ellis Smith).

Media Reviews

Christian Science Monitor
A story that in less accomplished hands might seem overly dark and brutal, here has resolution and subtle, thoughtful lessons. Almond, the author of the award-winning Skellig and Kit's Wilderness, has again written a truly original novel - one that is lyrical, often frightening, and sure to be widely discussed.

VOYA
It is a dark novel, suited more for mature male readers; however, they may find Liam almost too immature for his supposed age and the constant attention on war and violence too disturbing.

Publishers Weekly
Almond tackles complex questions about humanity from multiple points of view; flashes of wisdom - sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting - arrive at unexpected moments. Ages 12–up.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. ...With a storyteller's flair and a poet's precision, Almond reveals the fierce intensity of childhood.

Booklist
Starred Review. The kindness in every chapter is heartbreaking too. A haunting story, perfect for group discussion.

School Library Journal
This book is exquisitely crafted and will make any reader stop and think about the consequences of violence.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Symbolism of Ravens

Raven Summer begins with a raven beckoning to Liam to follow him. He flies a bit ahead, stops, calls to Liam - Jak jak! Jak jak! - and then flies a bit ahead again. Like this, the raven leads Liam to the abandoned baby. What is the symbolism of this loud, large beaked, black bird?

Ravens figure prominently in many legends from around the world.

Welsh: The Welsh hero, Bran, whose name means raven, was the holder of ancestral memories. He was said to be so intelligent that he had his head interred in the Sacred White Mount in London (where the Tower of London stands) - this is after being decapitated in a battle with Ireland and his head becoming an oracle! Ravens roost there and are said to be protecting Bran's wisdom.

Norse: ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by David Almond

If you liked Raven Summer, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Color of Air
    The Color of Air
    by Gail Tsukiyama
    Daniel was raised in Hilo, Hawaii by Japanese immigrant parents. Having traveled to the U.S. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Woman Before Wallis
    by Bryn Turnbull

    The true story of the American divorcée who captured the Prince's heart before Wallis.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.