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The Light in Everything

Authored by Katya Balen
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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The Light in Everything centres on the intertwined narratives of Zofia and Tom, two very different children with very different voices. Both children share strong bonds with their parents. Tom lives with his mum and is timid, introspective, thoughtful, and, with good reason, scared of the dark. Zofia was born in a storm and lives with her dad in a cottage on the coast: like the wild winds and seas, she is tempestuous, unpredictable, and loud. When their parents fall in love, Tom and Zofia’s lives collide, with Tom and his mum moving into Zofia’s home.

Zofia’s anger at this change of domestic routine crashes through the pages of her chapters, oblivious to the effect that her anger has on those around her.  And while Zofia rages, Tom’s anxieties and fears intensify, their mutual dislike and mistrust of each other deepening as each day passes. Each child has a coping mechanism: Tom makes origami cranes, and Zofia heads for the solace of the sea.

This is Katya Balen’s third book, and, like her previous works, tackles emotionally charged issues with sensitivity, told in beautiful and poetic prose. She explores the complexities and challenges of adjusting to a new and blended family. Balen has a keen awareness of the reader, drawing us into the story and creating characters we care about: pages turn with ease as their stories unfold.

This book would be a good read-aloud for upper KS2, as some of the issues could promote interesting PSheE discussions, but equally, some children might enjoy the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lives of Zofia and Tom independently.