An entertaining and educational read for children

I always accept offers to review books about my two favourite topics – nature and health. This time, I’ve been gifted Norah’s Ark by Victoria Williamson. It’s a book for children (around 8-12) and in it we meet Norah and Adam. Their lives couldn’t be more different. Norah is in temporary accommodation on the edge of homelessness and Adam lives in a huge house. Regardless of their differing situations they could both do with a friend, and their paths cross after they both see a nest of baby birds that needs protecting.

The book cleverly navigates themes of friendship, poverty, health and parenting styles. Adam and Norah take it turns to narrate a chapter. I think for any child, it would be a good reminder that wealth is not a marker for happiness, and that absolutely anyone can find themselves needing a bit of help. Whichever end of the spectrum they are at (or somewhere in between) there are lessons to be learned. Not least, that nature is something to be nurtured and that pets, independence and access to wild spaces can be helpful for children going through a tough time. It’s a sweet, endearing and eye-opening read. It made me think more deeply about the plight of many UK children living in temporary accommodation.

All this is set against a backdrop of intriguing mysteries that need to be solved, and there are also a few dramas along the way. What’s more 20% of royalties are being donated to the homelessness charity, Shelter.

Hannah is the author of The Cactus Surgeon, a nature & health memoir. Living in London, Hannah suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up in a garden centre, her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of the capital, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction. After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued. It’s a book of mindful moments, savouring the small wonders of nature.

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