Title: Swan Song
Author: Gill Lewis
Illustrator: Barrington Stoke
Genre: Children’s/middle grade fiction, Contemporary
Book format: Pre-publication proof
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Description: Dylan is struggling. Since he started high school, everything has become too much to handle. Now he’s been expelled and is forced to move to the tiny village in Wales where his grandad lives. But when Grandad invites Dylan out on his boat to watch the Whooper swans return to their winter feeding ground, things begin to change. Grandad doesn’t judge or question; he just lets Dylan be. Out on the water, with no distractions or pressure, Dylan begins to feel like himself again. But when the swans and their home are threatened, and tragedy strikes at home, can Dylan keep going when it feels like everything is slipping out of control again?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is such a lovely book with a wonderful story of how nature can truly heal someone both physically and mentally. Dylan has just been expelled from school, after punching another student when he got angry. With his mother having to home school him instead, and not able to keep her job, the two move to live with Dylan’s grandad in Wales, miles away from any city. But will Dylan be able to cope living in a new and different environment or will the nature of the countryside be exactly what he needs?

Swan Song book page image one
©The Strawberry Post – Inside the proof copy (final book may appear a little different)

This story is easy to get into right away and we soon learn about how frustrated Dylan is with his life and how he’s suffering from some mental health problems which are later shown to be depression. I like what happens with this story. At first Dylan doesn’t really know what to do with himself or how to enjoy life living in the countryside, but he soon starts spending time with his grandad, the two sailing on a boat and seeing the beautiful wildlife that’s in the area. Dylan’s grandad ends up showing him the whooper swans arriving for the winter and it isn’t long before he ends up getting closer to one particular swan, but in helping a swan the swan in turn helps him, in more ways than one.

I don’t want to give away what happens but this story is just so sweet and the perfect tale to show how powerful nature can be in healing someone. Dylan ends up looking after a swan that’s not well and the act of looking after it, feeding it and spending time with it helps him mentally. The caring behaviour has an impact both on Dylan and the swan and it isn’t long before something else amazing happens which helps Dylan not only smile but gain confidence in himself too. The story is lovely but it’s also very powerful and I just love how, despite some problems and sad things that happen, it is also a wonderfully inspiring story and might help inspire those reading it.

The ending is really good, I like how everyone ends up healing, or starting to heal, after what happens. The confidence, happiness and meaning to his life Dylan gains through his stay in Wales is life changing to him, and I like how even the incident at the start of the book is resolved at the end. As someone who suffered depression as a teenager myself, I know how difficult it can be to verbalise such emotions and deal with them. This book does an excellent job of showing how it’s okay to feel depressed and how something as simple as going out in nature and getting involved in something different can be the key to helping overcome those depressive thoughts.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a heart-warming story featuring nautre, in this case swans. The story has a good and positive message about depression and even, to some degree, about the healing power of nature on physical health as well. It’s also just a really lovely story about the swans and how we should be protecting natural habitats. The copy I had to read is a proof copy of this book (so the picture above doesn’t reflect the actual book inside), but the final book will have thicker off-white pages with special text that’s especially easy to read for dyslexics. The paragraphs are all separated too with a lovely image running along the bottom of each page making it feel like an easier to read book for reluctant readers as well as anyone with some visual/reading problems. This really is a lovely book with a lovely front cover image too, and one I’d recommend to everyone regardless of age!

-Swan Song is released on the 4th February!

What do you think of this book?  Do you like swans?  Do you think nature has the power to heal?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂