The Bookworm Sez:
‘Dreamy’ story likely to have you lost in its pages

“The Song from Somewhere Else” by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold c.2017, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, $16.99 / $22.99 Canada, 219 pages

There’s a kid in your class who’s just plain weird.

He really sticks out because of his clothes, his hair, his words, and rumor has it that he has cooties. He’s full of brags, full of awkwardness and, in “The Song from Somewhere Else” by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold, he may be full of surprises.

“The Song from Somewhere Else” by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold c.2017, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, $16.99 / $22.99 Canada, 219 pages

Frank hated to go to the park.

It wasn’t the park, so much as it was that Neil Noble and his friends were always around and they loved to tease her. “Fwancethca,” they called her and even though that was her real name, it made her so angry – but since Frank’s cat was missing and the park was the obvious place to put up posters, there she was.

Of course, so were Noble and his friends. They started taunting.

They pushed Frank down and threw her bag into the nettles.

She was not going to cry.

Then, much to Frank’s surprise, Nicholas Underbridge lumbered over from the edge of the park, all long arms and flat face, a foot taller than every other kid in Frank’s class. Nobody ever wanted to play with Nicholas. Nobody even wanted to be seen with him. Nobody wanted to catch his fleas. But Nicholas stood up to the bullies, and because Noble and his friends started chasing them, there was no other choice but for Frank to run with Nicholas to his house for safety’s sake.

Wait: was she really going to go to “Stinky” Underbridge’s house?

She was glad nobody saw her. That would be awful – and then something wonderful happened.

While she was waiting for Noble and his evil henchmen to leave the neighborhood, Frank heard music. It was soft and calming, silvery, and it made her smile. She wanted to hear it again so the next day, she actually went back to Nicholas’ house, where she found a secret door and an even bigger secret.

Nicholas, it turned out, wasn’t what he seemed to be…

Remember the outcast in your class? It seems like there’s always the kid who struggles to make friends and fit in, just like there’s always the kid who sees that struggle and opens her heart.

“The Song from Somewhere Else” gives this such a beautiful spin.

At first, you could almost call this an anti-bullying book, since author A.F. Harrold starts it with a scene that, if you were ever the target of taunting, takes your breath away with remembering.

The story quickly switches to another commonality: the misfit shows the kind of compassion he never sees from peers.

That leads to literary magic: accompanied by elegant black-and-white illustrations by Levi Pinfold, this tale of friendship then spins around to offer a few chills, sadness, triumph, and a bit of a kid-challenge to look again at the outsider in the back row.

Readers ages 7-to-12 will love this book for its dreamy, slightly-scary story.

Parents will love it for its perfectly subtle message. For sure, “The Song from Somewhere Else” is full of goodness.

Terri Schlichenmeyer