Review: Callum and the Mountain

Callum Mountain cover 150Young Calum’s life takes a strange turn when his school explodes before his eyes. What’s even stranger, is that he thinks his presence may have had something to do with it.

The school’s closure means an early start to the summer holidays, so Callum and his three best friends have time to enjoy their west coast village and the imposing mountain beside it – but a catalogue of odd events means that Callum views his surroundings with suspicion, and though he accepts that there is more going on than meets the eye, it is still a shock when he meets the very spirit who caused the rumpus.

Callum’s Mountain is a hugely imaginative children’s novel that is best enjoyed if you immerse yourself fully in its fantastical, green-lit world. It revels in the beauty and the power of the landscape, while allowing that landscape the chance to exhibit some very human characteristics, like jealousy, and a sense of mischief.

Callum and his friends – especially robin-a-like Vicky, and boat-obsessed Steven – are a unique and likeable quartet who have the potential for more adventures together.

For me, their escapades were made all the more by Alan McClure’s warm and skilful use of Scots. Words like glaikit, peely-walley and tapselteerie pop up throughout the book, adding richness and a sense of place, but always in a context where their meaning is clear for any reader for whom they are not familiar.

Callum and the Mountain, by Alan McClure (Beaten Track)

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