Kip of the mountain by Emma Gourlay

cover image

A little bit whimsical, a little bit eccentric a little bit adventurous and a little bit sad … this is the story of Kip who is a little bit picked on, and a little bit undervalued by everyone around her. All these bits added together make for a strangely idiosyncratic book. Kip lives in South Africa, and as the child of mixed-race parents knows what it is like to be left out and undervalued. Even her eccentric Dad seems more interested in tinkering in his shed and things with wings than in his own daughter. A bizarre, but furry hatchling (without wings) proves to be just what she needs to feel loved, and a classmate connects at just the right time. Sadly though, someone else sees the potential in her unique new friend and Kip must travel beyond her normal life in her ghostly home to rescue the creature, and her new friend supports her in the venture.

At every turn, and at every stage, it seems that there are serendipitous, odd things happening in Kip’s life. Her schoolteacher is far from normal, hair can come in many different inexplicable styles, animals act strangely, and her new friends are far from mundane. Do not expect anything to represent real life in this exceptionally quirky tale, but there is nothing magical about the story, only eccentricity. Underlying the strange fantasy though are some deeper issues of abandonment, bullying, racial prejudice, but all dealt with in a gentle fly-pass manner that some child readers will miss. This is a book for readers who can cope with ‘odd’, perhaps those who have enjoyed Katrina Nannestad’s quirky Olive of Groves fantasy stories might also connect with this story. Recommended for readers aged 8-11 - but only if they can cope with eccentricity.

Themes: Fantasy, Family, Friendship, Pets, Bullying, South Africa.

Carolyn Hull