Gill Lewis returns to Barrington Stoke for a third children's book, Swan Song, which will explore issues of anxiety and depression in young people, while also looking at the topic of wildlife protection.
Word rights for the title were acquired by editorial director Ailsa Bathgate from Victoria Birkett of Miles Stott Children’s Literary Agency. Swan Song will be published in February 2021.
Aimed at ages eight plus, the story follows Dylan, a young boy who is struggling and has been expelled from high school. He has been forced to moved in with his grandad in a tiny village in Wales. When he goes out with his grandad on a boat to watch the Whooper swans return to their winter feeding ground, things start to change and Dylan begins to feel like himself again. But when the swans and their home are threatened and tragedy strikes at home, Dylan must keep going even when it feels like everything is slipping from his control.
Bathgate said: "Swan Song is a profoundly affecting story with a very timely reminder, as children head back into the classroom after lockdown, about the pressure they can feel in a school environment and the detrimental effect this can have upon their mental health. It is also a wonderful evocation of the important relationship that children can have with their grandparents in a space where they can be loved and understood without a parental agenda geared towards achievement. All this wrapped up with a subtle but beautiful message about how the natural world can offer comfort and solace. I found it incredibly moving on my first read and every time since."
Lewis commented: "Swan Song was inspired, in part, by my own teenage years, where the claustrophobic confines of my city school were relieved by the wide skies and peace of the Welsh estuary where my father kept a small boat. I wanted Swan Song to show the true restorative power of nature and how close ties to community can help those with anxiety and depression. It's a story about how a boy finding his way back from a dark place, to be himself again, and I'm thrilled to be published by Barrington Stoke, a publisher that ensures great stories are accessible to all."
Barrington Stoke has previously published Lewis' Run Wild (2018) and Eagle Warrior (2019).