Since Niker arrived, Robert Nobel's been called Norbert. Norbert No-Bel. Norbert No-Bells-at-All. Norbert No-Brain. Norbert No-Bottle. "I don't suppose Johnny Niker, who has curly dark hair, green eyes and a fluid, athletic body, has ever imagined what it would be like to look out at the world through Norbert No-Bottle's spectacles. But I have. Because I'm Norbert No-Bottle." Robert is a boy who can do anything - or so old Edith Sorrel at the nursing home tells him. Robert doesn't think so, knowing as he does that he is the school geek. But something compels him to do what Edith asks - to visit old Chance House, where a boy once fell to his death from the top floor flat, to confront his fears and find some answers. Niker the bully thinks this is a great laugh. He challenges Robert to spend the night at Chance House with him - but there the balance of power changes, and it is Robert who proves to be the stronger. Niker feels threatened by the change - and when he finds out Robert's secret obsession, to make the dying Edith Sorrel a coat of feathers like in the old legend of the Firebird, he knows just how to wrest his old power back. But just how important is the coat of feathers? Could it really save Edith's life?
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It is a rare author indeed who launches her first novel for young readers so conclusively into the "must-read books of the year" category. In Feather Boy, Nicky Singer traces a character-defining sequence of events in the life of a boy named Robert Nobel. He is often the butt of classroom jokes and pranks--and being called Norbert No-bottle all the time isn't much fun either. He secretly wants to be somebody. To have a voice. To have friends.
Robert's participation in the Elders Project changes his life forever. Selected members of his class are chosen to visit and interact with the elderly residents of Mayfield Rest Home--to find out about their lives and to "counter ignorant attitudes about such senior members of society." Robert's main attacker, classmate Jonathan Niker, considers the old people "vegetables," but Robert's own buried true-life personality is slowly unearthed by Edith--a prickly resident who singles him out. Edith is considered quite mad; she's haunted by the unhappy memories of her son's tragic death at her previous home, Chance House. As Edith's condition deteriorates and the Elders Project heads towards its conclusion, Robert is drawn deeper and deeper into her story. His visits to the derelict Chance House become more frequent, and one fateful trip to sleep there overnight as a dare with Niker heralds the first step on Robert's own journey in search of his real self.
Feather Boy is more than just a story about bullying. It's about finding your voice, shouting from the rooftops about something you believe in, refusing to back down, helping a friend, and never giving up. An enormously uplifting, accomplished, and satisfying novel. (Age 10 and older) --John McLay, Amazon.co.ukFrom the Inside Flap:
"Top flat, Chance House. You can go there. . . . You are the sort of boy who can fly."
That's what Edith Sorrell, mysterious resident of Mayfield Rest Home, says when Robert asks her to share a wisdom with him as part of a class project. And even though Robert Nobel, a.k.a Norbert No-Bottle, the perpetually picked-on class squit, is convinced she's batty, he's determined to pluck up his courage and go. After all, what does Robert have to lose? His dad is busy with his new family, his mum is always at work, the school bully is making his life miserable, and the class beauty won't give him the time of day.
But Edith is hiding a secret about boarded-up Chance House's past that's more complicated than Robert ever imagined. The search for the truth begins in the top-floor flat with a few small feathers. Uncovering it will change both of their lives forever.
From the Hardcover edition.
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