My book review of 'By Ash, Oak and Thorn' by Melissa Harrison

By Ash, Oak and Thorn

by Melissa Harrison
Recommended age: 9+
By Ash, Oak and Thorn
by Melissa Harrison

Three tiny beings live in the roots of an ash tree, but one day wake to find their home destroyed. As they embark on a quest to find new friends and a new shelter, they take us with them through fields, along rivers and into the city.

The journey with Moss, Burnet and Cumulus is full of humour and adventure. There are challenges and tragedy, but there are also animals and birds to meet, and flowers and plants to discover.

The warm, friendly and protective narrator shares with the reader all she knows of the natural world. Gently she explains, for example, why dogs need to be on leads and why foxes get a bad press. She reveals how you can recognise certain birds from their song and she urges mortals to be more considerate of the other creatures sharing the land. It's all achieved with a quiet, rather awe-struck wonder which is delightful and infectious.

This is a beautiful story. It's full of nostalgia, for rural life, legends, superstition and folklore. But there is also a wry and contemporary voice and insight.

Some of the dialogue springs from tv comedy shows - 'Gavin and Stacey' and 'Dad's Army' were ones I spotted! And the author has drawn on the wonderful classic stories of 'The Little Grey Men' and 'The Borrowers' for inspiration.

It's rich with story, warm and quirky characters, and lots of facts about nature seamlessly woven into the narrative.

It's wonderful. I didn't want it to end.


Review date: March 2021
Publication date: 6th May 2021