A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a book that will encourage kids to think about some big issues. Davie's story has him wrestling with the nature of good, evil, creativity, and God, and the complex relationships among them. Readers will enjoy pondering the questions with Davie, and debating them. Take, for example, the question raised by the main character himself: Can a person who does many bad things really be good? The kids in this book sometimes behave badly -- they drink, smoke, fight, lie, steal, and in general behave like minor-league hooligans -- but what will really stick with readers is the imaginative story, and the issues it raises. Parents may want to spark -- or at least join in on -- the discussion.
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What's the story?
Davie and his best mate Geordie are altar boys always up for a bit of trouble -- smoking, drinking stolen altar wine, fighting with the neighborhood toughs, avoiding Mouldy, who's a bigger tough than they can handle, and cadging tips at funerals. Then Stephen Rose comes to town. Stephen has come to live with his crazy aunt after his father died and his mother went insane and had to be locked up. The priest asks Davie to befriend him. Stephen has a real talent with sculpting clay. But more than that, he has a talent that he believes Davie shares -- to bring his creations to life. Together they sculpt a golem, a giant clay monster, and bring it to life to protect themselves from Mouldy. But Stephen's intentions go far beyond mere protection.
Is it any good?
David Almond writes some of the flat-out weirdest kids' books around. At their best, they are gorgeous, compelling, and powerful. Here Almond displays poetic lyricism, bizarre imagination, and complex emotional undercurrents, then binds it together with suspense and enough intriguing ideas to give thoughtful kids plenty to chew on.
There are layers upon layers, and good and evil intertwine. CLAY has lots British slang that may frustrate some young readers, but those who persevere will find this an edgy and exciting look at some pretty big ideas, including the nature of good, evil, creativity, and God, and the complex relationships among them, all wrapped up in early adolescent angst and uncertainty and bravado.
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