‘The Boy With the Butterfly Mind,’ is an emotional rollercoaster of a read, I can’t remember feeling so effected by a story in a really long time. Jamie and Elin worlds collide unexpectedly when their families are blended together. Abandoned by his Mum who can’t cope anymore with his ADHD, Jamie moves in with hid Dad and Elin’s family ruining her already fractured life. They are the complete opposite in every way but what they both don’t realise that inside they both desperately want the same thing, a return to normal family life. While Jamie is determined to make Elin like him, she is determined to get this monster out of her life whatever the cost. It’s really disconcerting to see their internal struggles as their family descends into chaos and misery. A wonderfully empathetic story which doesn’t give a rose tinted view of life, instead it allows the full scale breakdown to be clearly seen by the reader so they can truly understand the depths of despair that both characters face. Yet despite all this it still manages to be an uplifting story highlighting the importance of being brave even when others around you refuse to accept people for who they are. Heart-breaking and thoughtful in equal measures this is an honest portrayal of real life struggles that make life unbearable for many children.
To celebrate the release of ‘The Boy With the Butterfly Mind,’ I have a special guest post from Victoria about keeping the wonder alive in science and in writing.
Rediscovering the Wonder – Victoria Williamson
Some of my earliest memories involved setting things on fire.
Not in a scary, ‘call-the-fire-brigade’ arsonist way, I should hasten to add. It was all in the name of science. When I was four, my father showed me how to burn a hole in a leaf with a magnifying glass. I’ll never forget my amazement at seeing the sun focused down to such a tiny point its rays could set leaves alight. My father explained the dangers, of course, so I wasn’t about to go burning holes in the garden shed or setting forests on fire or anything, but it was my first important lesson in the power and magic of science.
Over the years there were many more lessons to come. I still remember spending afternoons making pictures with iron filings and magnets, and learning how to make butter by shaking a jar of milk until my arms were nearly falling off. Back then science seemed to be all about discovery and adventure, and I was eager to learn more.
In my late teens I studied Physics and Astronomy at university. I had romantic ideas of playing with particle accelerators and staring up at the stars all night, but what I got instead was lectures full of mathematical formulae and hours spent in darkened lab rooms working out the luminosity of light bulbs. I couldn’t understand why this knowledge seemed so divorced from my experience of science in the real world – what did the spin properties of quarks have to do with the science experiments I enjoyed as a child? What did calculating the internal pressures of stars in a lecture hall have to do with the wonder of the stars at night? This failure to join the dots on my part meant I was unable to grasp the big picture of how the mathematics behind the phenomena I observed could help me explain them. I began to think of science as something that was boring – a hard slog involving a large amount of calculation, and very little magic.
It wasn’t until I began work as a teacher, that I rediscovered the magic of science through the eyes of the children I taught. Going back to basics – the wonder of watching liquids with different densities form a rainbow, or the fun of playing with static electricity, reminded me why I’d wanted to learn the formulae behind how these phenomena worked in the first place. I didn’t forget to teach the physics and chemistry behind the experiments, but the children’s excitement at making liquids glow in the dark or watching baking soda volcanoes fizz over, made me realise just how important it was not to lose sight of the magic of science this time either.
Writing can be just like this. Often the reason authors start crafting stories is for the excitement of building new worlds and peopling them with characters drawn from our imaginations. But then we start to get bogged down by all of the technicalities of novel-writing – planning intricately-detailed plots and penning overly-flowery paragraphs to try to impress a high school English teacher years after leaving school. When we forget that writing, much like science, must have magic at its core, what we produce is an overly-formulaic story that’s boring for the reader to slog through.
Of course the mechanics are very important – without a coherent plot and well-defined characters a novel would just be a jumble of disconnected chapters that don’t hang together. However, if we lose touch with the reason why we want to write stories in the first place, then our writing loses its sparkle. In these days of SATS, HMIE inspections, and a billion boxes for teachers to tick, keeping the joy of stories alive in the classroom by not making reading or creative writing too prescriptive can be a challenge. But as long as teachers don’t lose touch with the magic behind those stories, giving children plenty of free writing and reading time unconnected to tests or worksheet-filling exercises, then children will start to connect the joy of world-building to the more disciplined art of story-crafting.
These days I’m enjoying balancing my day-dreaming with the technical side of writing. I may not have got the formulae just right yet, but it’s turning into the most exciting experiment I’ve ever done
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more special posts, reviews and giveaways.
Thank you to Victoria and Kelpies for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted review copy. ‘The Boy With the Butterfly Mind,’ is available to buy online now and from any good bookshop.