Norah’s Ark by Victoria Williamson

Norah’s life moving from one bed and breakfast to the other with her dad, means she’s moved schools and lost so-called friends more than she’d ever thought possible. Secretly caring for a myriad of animals to combat her loneliness whilst her dad looks for work, she tries to look after them as best as she can with what little she has.

When a nest of baby birds she’s been feeding in the bushes at the park go missing, she sees a boy taking it into the tree house in the garden of one of the huge houses that surrounds the place she spends most of her time. Adam, unaware she was caring for them, has rescued the birds. Recovering from Leukemia, he isn’t allowed out to play with other children. Like her, he spends a lot of time alone.

As Noah and Adam learn more about each other’s lives, it’s clear their backgrounds are poles apart but as their friendship grows, their support for each other is invaluable as they each deal with their ongoing problems.

From stray dogs to abandoned cats and hobbling mice, Norah and Adam prove that people from different societal backgrounds and experiences can be friends and weather storms together. And talking of storms, when a dangerous flood beckons, can Adam and Norah save the animals? Will Norah’s confidence grow the more she stands up to those that belittle her? Can Adam convince his parents that he can go outside safely and make friends again?

Loneliness, homelessness, the care system and bullying are all themes that run throughout Norah’s Ark’s heart-warming story arc. Hope, love and friendship shine through and this incredible novel deserves a place on every book shelf so that children can empathise with those in similar situations and also learn to look out for each other.

Be prepared to laugh, cry and marvel at the friendship created within its pages. A poignant and at times, a sad read, author Victoria Williamson has ensured that every reader will consider how lucky they are and remind themselves of what they take for granted. Sometimes assumptions are made about people without knowing their background, Norah’s Ark certainly goes a long way to break down barriers that society reflects on those from all walks of life.

Norah’s Ark, written by the wonderful Victoria Williamson, with stunning illustrations by Anna Morrison, officially launches into the world on 29th August 2023 – you can pre-order from Neem Tree Press or through your local bookshop. For readers 8-12 and for anyone who loves a good story!

I’ve been following Victoria Williamson’s publishing career for a while now and had the honour of chairing the on-line launch of her children’s novel ‘Hag Storm’ in October 2021. Her children’s books never fail to amaze me with their depth, her continued understanding of how young people see the world and the relevant and inclusive themes she uses. From historical fiction to contemporary novels, she is a true literary legend and I can’t wait to see what stories she creates next. I am delighted to be a stop on her book launch blog tour.

Victoria’s previous novels include The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, The Boy with the Butterfly Mind, Hag Storm, and War of the Wind. She has won the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2020/2021, The YA-aldi Glasgow Secondary School Libraries Book Award 2023, and has been shortlisted for the Week Junior Book Awards 2023, The Leeds Book Awards 2023, the Red Book Award 2023, the James Reckitt Hull Book Awards 2021, The Trinity School Book Awards 2021, and longlisted for the ABA South Coast Book Awards 2023, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020, and the Branford Boase Award 2019.

Her latest novel, The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams, is a middle grade fantasy inspired by classic folklore. Twenty percent of the author royalties for this book are donated to CharChar Literacy, an organisation working to improve children’s literacy levels in Malawi.

You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and free resources for schools on her website.

Photo credit: Kerry at The Write Reads

Follow these incredible bloggers on X (was Twitter) for more reviews of Victoria’s heart-warming novel. What a fantastic book launch tour to be involved in! Huge thanks to curator Dave and the team at The Write Reads.