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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fantastic, 25 Jun 2014
By 
Angela - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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Scarlet, aged 12, hasn't had the easiest start in life, with a mum who tries to chain smoke her way out of depression, a father she has never met and a younger brother who has autism, she's the one who tries to hold it all together. When crisis hits the family we see her dealing with "the Penguin" - social worker, and fighting for her family. This is more than a child and relationship with animal story, although birds feature throughout, it's a thoughtful, sad in parts but incredibly gripping tale that will stay with you after the last page is turned.

I'm an adult reader who read this 202 page novel in one sitting and then passed it straight on to my 10 year old who is enjoying it too- I'd say it's ideal reading for the 10-14 age range but clearly can be appreciated by adults too. There are some gritty themes but nothing inappropriate and the characterisation is superb; it's both totally convincing and sensitively handled.

I loved this book even more than the White Dophin and Moon Bear by this author, which I also enjoyed, this really seems like a logical progression for Gill Lewis. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOTALLY INVOLVING WITH MUCH TO UPLIFT, 26 May 2014
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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In an eighth floor flat, twelve year old Scarlet struggles to cope - little brother Red autistic, their mother chronically depressed. The fathers (both of them) are long gone. Her great fear is that Social Services will split them up.

Disaster strikes. What for them now?

It sounds grim but, as usual with Gwen Lewis, readers must first share the suffering in order fully to appreciate what follows. As in the other novels, treatment is sensitive without being mawkish and characterization strong. The relationship between Scarlet and Red comes over most movingly. There is no shortage of people to like: foster mother Renee and family, Birdman Jim at the zoo, social worker Mrs Gideon (initially thought the enemy), and old Madame Popescue (she hopefully destined for happier times).

Whatever the problems, Gill Lewis clearly believes something within enables the human spirit to win through. Admittedly it sometimes needs a little help. With aid from unexpected quarters, surely Scarlet and Red can again share their stories and dreams? That, most fervently, is the reader's wish.

Life-affirming, and yet another treat for Gill Lewis' growing legion of fans.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once you start you just can stop reading it... Recommended age 10+, 29 Jun 2014
By 
Coffee & Vanilla "Margot" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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"Scarlet Ibis" is a heart moving story of 11-12 year old girl Scarlet who takes care of Red - her 8 year old half brother with learning difficulties while her mum sleeps, takes pills and smokes cigarettes. Scarlet is the one that tries to keep the family together, making sure everything is alright for the social services visit so they would not be taken away again, as it happened already before.

Scarlet loves Red very much, she prepares him for school, reads bedtime stories for him and even collect him from school... they always imagine that one day, just two of them, they will fly over the ocean, just like scarlet ibises, to Trinidad - where Scarlet's father came from, but she has never met him.

My 8 year old daughter was very interested in this book and we did read it together as there were words and expressions she could not understand on her own. It reminded us, maybe sometimes even a bit too much of someone we knew back in London where families like Scarlet's were way too often reality.

Personally I loved writing style of Gill Lewis... "Scarlet Ibis" is definitely not one of those fairy chapter books primary school girls usually read. It brings something in your life, makes you think about kids like Scarlet who are not so lucky to have functional family and struggles they have to go through everyday.

We will definitely be looking forward reading more books from Gill Lewis in future when my daughter will be about 10 years old and able to read them on her own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Feathers, 7 July 2014
By 
M. J. Saxton (Dewsbury, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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I was delighted to read this book. At first I had misgivings: was it a little too real for younger readers? But I was totally won over by this enchanting tale of hope and rescue in an urban setting and left quite emotional at the end.

It is a fairy tale for our time. It has the lost children, the mother, "good" and "bad" fairies, special helpers and even a witch. It is all about being lost a found.

Gill Lewis is such a clever writer, taking the tale of a sister and autistic brother, depressed mother and their hard lives and turning it into such an uplifting tale full of lovely characters. I highly recommend this book for 10+, or even for reading to younger children in groups. It has so much to tell them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and beautifully written, 1 May 2014
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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My daughter says:-

"Great news! I have discovered a new author, I love Scarlet Ibis and for me there are three more to come. I can definitely say that Gill Lewis is already one of my favourite writers.

"Scarlet, a 12 year old girl, has a little brother called Red who is very dependent on her as part of his un-named condition. Their mum is a heavy smoker who doesn't care for Scarlet and Red as much as she should. They live as a threesome in a flat in London, Scarlet doing all of the housework on her own. Red has a love for birds - the scarlet ibis in particular - and Scarlet takes him to the zoo every month to help him find more bird feathers to add to his special collection.

"When danger hits their home, Scarlet is taken away from Red and her mum. She's put into foster care and no one seems to tell her where her family is. Scarlet tries this, that and the other to get the family back together, but will she even find them? And, even if she does, will she be able to keep out of trouble?

"This is a story that touches and grips the reader immediately. The words dance through the pages and fly through the chapters. There is a realistic style to the writing that can be easily absorbed. The book is set in the first person, so the story is all about Scarlet's thoughts and feelings. I like this style, because it is what I'm used to in most books I read (for example Jacqueline Wilson, another of my most favoured writers).

"Characters in this story are memorable and have interesting personalities. This is great because if the characters connect with the reader, it is more likely to create an effect when a character is hurt, in trouble, or overjoyed etc.

"In my own opinion this book is aimed at 10-15 year old girls. Not that anyone out of this range wouldn't enjoy it, because I'm sure they would, but this is just who I would recommend it to.

"A great story, with great writing style, great characters, what could be better? I hope all readers will enjoy it, read it slowly (unlike me!), and savour every word."

SKY x - age 11 :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also a good read for a 37 year old!, 15 Aug 2014
By 
V. Ware (Devon , England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
I picked this up in the recommended section in my local library, not realising it was meant for pre-teen age group. Despite this I enjoyed the story immensely and will definitely read more of Gill Lewis' stuff in future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Touching Tale From Gill Lewis, 30 Oct 2014
By 
H. Pierce (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Scarlet Ibis is the tale of Scarlet, and her half brother Red. These children have not had the most wonderful start in life; Scarlet finds herself virtually running the household, and looking after Red. Their mother has some big mental health issues going on, and is not even able to care for herself adequately, let alone her children. Red, in particular, needs more than she can give him, as he has some kind of autistic disorder.

It seems inevitable that these vulnerable children will be taken away from their mother, but Scarlet cannot bear the thought of losing her brother. She fights with all she has to keep them all together as a family.

The characters in this book are not all sweetness and light. Gill Lewis likes to keep a certain edge to her characters, and not shoehorn them in to the image of 'perfection'. This realism shines through in her novels. As usual, the story is a moving one, with some moral dilemmas that the reader can ponder over.

Overall, this is a touching tale of a young girl desperately trying to keep her family together. It is the story of a child needing more than she is offered; and the tale of the strength of the human spirit. The story is a fast-paced one, and I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scarlet Ibis, 21 Nov 2014
By 
Tried and Tested (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
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From reading the synopsis of this book I was really interested to see how the subject matter would be tackled but also very wary that it could be a bit heavy going for children and a bit depressing. I needn’t have worried, Gill Lewis does a fantastic job of tackling a difficult subject with care and sensitivity and has written an engaging novel which I flew through and would have no qualms in passing to my 11 year old niece.

Quite surprisingly, I found this book to be quite uplifting, the characters who help out Scarlet and Red are lovely and it was heart-warming to think that people like this exist, it says a lot for the quality of the writing and the characterisation, that I didn’t think of them as characters in a fictional novel but as real people who helped out real children.

The other books by Gill Lewis are currently on the accelerated reading programme and I’ll be surprised if this isn’t added to the programme shortly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarlet ibis, 29 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Kindle Edition)
An amazing book which I would love to hear more of. I think that this book speaks of reality and we should all listen to it. Well done Gill
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Might not be what you expect, but still a good read., 13 Jun 2014
This review is from: Scarlet Ibis (Paperback)
Not quite what I expected. Having only read Sky Hawk and loved it, and noticing that her other books also featured animals, I somehow expected Scarlet Ibis birds to feature more prominently in the story than they do. That however is the skill of Gill Lewis. Scarlet is the name of the main character, so called because her father was Trinidadian where Caroni Swamp is found. It's actually a very touching and sad story of two children, whose mum has mental health issues and can't cope with them so they end up in care - apart. Red, Scarlet's brother has special needs and he loves birds, especially the Scarlet Ibis and it's this thread that weaves throught the book, keeping them linked. Well written and moving
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Scarlet Ibis
Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis (Paperback - 1 May 2014)
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