Posts Tagged ‘Glenda Millard’

The Stars at Oktober Bend

By Glenda Millard





The Stars at Oktober Bend | FRONT COVER (20 October 2015)



This book blew me away. It will tear at your heart, pull it back in again and give you renewed hope that despite what life throws at you, life is ultimately good.

Alice is 15 years old and broken. After an assault, Alice is left with acquired brain injury which leaves her unable to talk. Her words stumble out slow and awkward, so she hardly talks to anyone except her brother Joey and her Gram. Joey is a wonderful supporting younger brother taking on responsibilities beyond his age. Their Gram is old and in very poor health and the rest of the family are gone. Alice also suffers from seizures – her electrics are broken, as she says so she doesn’t go to school. She stays home and writes the words she struggles to say. Alice writes beautiful poems that say so much more than she is capable of with speech. She leaves her poems in different places about town, hoping they might be found.

Manny is 16 years old and runs at night trying to block out the pain from when he was a boy soldier, before he came to this safe country. It is Manny who finds one of Alice’s poems and seeks to find out about the writer.

This book is both tender and terrifying. Alice and Manny hold secrets and truths from each other. Secrets so awful that I was moved to tears. Almost all of the characters are flawed but that is the reality of life. Their pain and grief is raw. I just wanted to hug them both and tell them things will be okay.

Alice’s poems flow with such ease when she writes but Manny can see beyond the poems and her brain injury. Theirs is a love story about hurt and hate but ultimately about healing. It is an incredibly powerful book.

The novel is written without capital letters and while it might seem strange at first, it works perfectly and as you read not only do you become accustomed to the style but you get to know Alice as she really is and bit by bit you see her change.

Seriously, when this comes out in February do look out for it. It deals with some tough issues but is beautifully written and it will leave an impact.

If you are using this in class I would certainly recommend the teaching notes on this link.

Once a shepherd
By Glenda Millard
Illustrated by Phil Lesnie

ISBN 9781921720628
Walker Books


I was moved to tears the first time I read this book and the next and the next. It is book which haunts the reader with its powerful story and wonderful illustrations. The story begins with Tom the shepherd out in the field with his sheep. We see his life played out when he falls in love and marries his sweetheart Cherry. We see him go off to war but we don’t see him return. Published in time to commemorate World War 1 this is ideal for all levels. It certainly leaves it wide open for all manner of discussions.

Millard uses words sparingly producing a succinct yet poignant story. As the saying goes, less is more! This is Phil Lesnie’s first picture book but I bet you it won’t be his last. I love the plain weave of the end pages, symbolic of the story and the love between Tom and Cherry.
You can find teacher notes here to help explore this book further. This is a must-have for any schools contemplating a study on World War 1 and the impact of war on ordinary people.

As an aside, two of my favorite books by Glenda Millard are The duck and the darklings where the language is just brilliant and one of the best books to use for teaching creative writing.
The other is The Mbobo tree another hauntingly beautiful picture book, this time in a more traditional story telling format.