Kid’s Book Review: October, October

Kid’s Book Review: October, October

About the Book and Author

From author Katya Balen for children aged 9-12 years is one of the most beautiful stories that has been published this Autumn. The critics are describing it as a future classic and our young reviewer certainly agrees that it is an amazing book that has been published by Bloomsbury.

I know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but we are allowed to be influenced by them. This gorgeous linocut-style illustration by Angela Harding shouts out quality, a celebration of Nature and begs the book to be picked up and opened where inside you find pages in a deep burnt orange colour and an ivory-coloured illustration of an owl.

October and her dad live in the woods. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that’s the way it is until she turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. It’s the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

Written in Katya Balen’s heart-stoppingly beautiful style, this book is a feast for the senses, filled with the woodsmoke smell of crisp autumn mornings and the sound of wellies squelching in river mud. And, as October fights to find the space to be wild in the whirling chaos of the world beyond the woods, it is also a feast for the soul and a book that older readers will enjoy too. Here is a link to the author reading from October October.



October October cover
Katya Balen author

Katya Balen read English at university and then completed an MPhil researching the impact of stories on autistic children’s behaviour. She has worked in a variety of special needs schools as a teaching assistant, and more recently co-founded Mainspring Arts – a not-for-profit that provides mentoring and creative opportunities for neurodivergent adults. She is also the author of children’s book The Space We’re In, which is also published by Bloomsbury.  You can watch a clip of the author talking about why she creates the characters that she does.

Angela Harding is an artist and printmaker who has illustrated a number of books. You can find out more about her on her website.

Book Review

The epic vocabulary and exceptional characters really help the glorious story come to life

October, October by Katya Balen is an amazing book about a girl called October who lives in the woods with her dad. Then, one year, October’s dad falls out of a tree and has to go to hospital. October has to go and live with her mum in London. But she doesn’t like life in the city, and wants to go back to the woods with her dad and be wild again. And, all the time, she is searching for the completed story of a strange ring she found in the woods…

I loved this story because it presents a range of vivid characters, each with unique personalities. Like October’s new friend Yusef is lively, funny and friendly. You never want to put this book down and it keeps you guessing at every page. There are plenty of adventures to discover as you read and the epic vocabulary and exceptional characters really help the glorious story come to life.

The illustrations by Angela Harding are beautiful and detailed and add a wonderful addition to the book.

I adore the character development and characters in general, like how October gradually learns to love her mother and her father, as well as the fact that she learns you just have to let some things go. I also love the humour woven into the fabric of the story. You feel for the characters, and some parts make you smile while others make you feel a character’s sadness. I love the additions of real London facts and the wild side of the big city.

It’s fun to find out how October describes each thing that is normal to our everyday life, like how she describes terrace houses as house sandwiches. This book is particularly good because it is told from Octobers point of view.

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian, if you cannot find the book on its shelves.

Either way, we hope you enjoy being part of your unique community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

Junior Reviewer Margaret
  • Name: Margaret
  • Age: 11 years
  • Likes: reading, fossil hunting and writing
  • Dislikes: seafood and stir-fry
  • Favourite Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Favourite Film: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Favourite Song: Contradicshun by Megson