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A Kestrel for a Knave (M Books) Spiral-bound – 1 Oct 1993

4.6 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Spiral-bound
  • Publisher: Heinemann Educational; 1st New edition edition (Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0174325088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0174325086
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 753,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Barry Hines was born near Barnsley, Yorkshire, in 1939 and was a promising footballer before taking a teaching qualification at Loughborough. He taught PE in London and in Yorkshire before writing full time. He has written nine novels, and co-wrote the screenplay of Kes with Ken Loach. He lives in Yorkshire. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
AKFAK contains the harsh reality of life for a boy, Billy, mistreated at home and at school and fated to work in a dead end job in the mines. His escape is his kestrel that he has reared and trained from a chick.
Hines never sweetens the story with false sentiment but keeps all the action gritty and realistic. What is surprising is that it is very easy to sympathise with Billy despite his prickliness, bad manners and violence. Hines portrays him, as a normal boy brought up in poverty without any aspirations- his bad behaviour is a product of these social elements rather than his true self.
There is a strong sense of love underneath the frustration and anger. Billy lives for his kestrel and his sense of devotion is what lifts an otherwise bleak social study to more optimistic levels. The Casper family have a strange mixture of violence, jealousy and love between them- it seems that despite the anger and threats their family must stick together.
The film, Kes, although very similar to the book and a wonderful work in its own right, has a different ending- perhaps motive enough for the film's many fans to read the book and see what really happened.
AKFAK mixes vivid descriptions of the countryside and small industrial town with fleshed out characters with great dialogue and a story that's simplicity tells a moving and plausible tale of hope and grim realism.
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Format: Paperback
The poverty and hopelessness of a boy, Billy, whose only pleasure is in training a Kestrel makes a fiercely poignant story. His father leaves home, probably forever, his mother is no solace - more concerned with her tawdry one nighters. His brother Jud, much older than him and already working down the pit, is only interested in betting on the horses. There is one teacher at school who encourages Billy and winkles out of him a story for the class based on his activities with Kes, the bird he took from a nest and trained, stealing a book in a shop to give him the knowledge of how to fly and care for his bird. The sequences describing him flying the bird have a rough, but entirely lyrical feel. He loves the Kestrel and takes care of it religiously.

Another teacher, the Games teacher, makes fun of Billy and is pointlessly cruel, making him the butt of unfeeling jokes. Jud often sends him to put money on horses at the betting shop and one day Billy is too late. He spends the money on meat for the bird. But Jud deals out a cruel revenge.

This is a simple but searingly sad story. Unusual in that it is honest and forthright about the way Billy's life is narrowing as he approaches the age where his only hope is a manual job, either that or the pit. It's not a happy ending for Billy.

This book was made into a film, Kes, which has a different ending. The book has no time for sentiment. It's a sorrowful yet piercingly honest picture of a child without any consolation. Billy's not a hero, and probably will never climb out of the deadening and futile future that is all the world has planned for him.
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Format: Paperback
Ok, so I simply don't understand some people. Now I'm adding 'people who have given kestrel for a knave fewer than four star reviews' to the list of people I don't understand. They seem to be missing the point. So the book, I would not advise anyone looking for a comfortable reading experience to pick this one up, it is uncomfortable from the start. The life it describes is bleak and heartbreakingly deprived. Billy Casper quite literally has nothing, his brother (with whom he has to share a bed) is a violent brutal drunk, his mother has a reputation as the local bike and zero maternal instinct. It appears that Billy's father gave attention and even love but that came to an end when he caught Billy's mother with 'Uncle Mick' and he is now out of the picture. Billy has turned his back on the gang he used to hang out with, so is left with no real friends, he does poorly at school and it seems that all but one of his teachers have given up on him. He seems destined to have to go to work in the local pit, alongside his brute of a brother. The one thing he does have is a way with animals, something he has used to train a hawk. Everyone knows that this one light in his life will be snuffed out, but it is the whole story which is heart wrenching. Using local dialect throughout brings the characters to life, while the lyrical descriptions of the countryside and of the falconry contrast with the brutal surroundings of the town and estate. This is stark social realism. The scene in the showers following a lost football match are among the most disturbing that I have ever read, and the indifference shown by Billy's mother over the fate of his beloved Kes encapsulates the indifference Billy meets everywhere. For me it was Billy's tall story which really brought a lump to my throat. The ending is terribly inconclusive but we can see how things will continue for this child with little or no chance of escape.
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By A Customer on 23 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
The book entitled,"A kestrel for a knave",is about a young,poor,unwanted boy who is trying to survive a crucial life.He is mistreated in the school and in his home by his mother,Mrs.Casper and other close and distant persons in his life.He has one friend that he relates to in this text and that is his kestrel,Kes,which he had to fight for and achieve her possesion as well.Him and the kestrel have a remarkable relationship,like no other pet and its owner.He has a dull future that entails working in the coal mines and continue running erruns for his mother and his brother,Jud.I give this book a two thumbs up and encourage all young people to read it and realize how lucky in life they are.I am 13 years old and this book has changed my life with its motivation.It has changed me by allowing me to realize how fortunate in life I am;to have parents that care,a positive environment to develop in,and the understanding that although my life is not perfect,I am more fortunate than some people in some parts of the world.
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