Marsh and Me by Martine Murray
Joey M. Green is a boy with ‘sensitivities’, who rarely has the right words at the right time. He’s a deep thinker, part of a loving family; he wonders about his place in the world. He plays his guitar secretly in his bedroom, dwells on the achievements of great men, and tries to avoid the well-meaning questions of his family. Other kids seem to fit seamlessly into friendship groups, while he only has self-assured and nature-obsessed Digby. Everything changes when Joey finds a treehouse-dwelling interloper in his special place – an otherwise unremarkable hill.
Marsh is an unnerving and fierce girl with a rich imagination. Her treehouse is home to dozens of carefully selected objects that are arranged with love and care, and which are the players in Marsh’s timeless and odd fairytales. Joey is utterly enchanted (and sometimes infuriated) with Marsh’s non sequiturs, her Serbian songs and her anachronistic outfits, but there is also much to worry about. Why isn’t she in school? Does she have enough to eat? And why do her stories thrum with sadness and loss?
Marsh and Me is a stirring coming-of age-story with a wonderful main character. Joey is a believable delight; and his tentative, sometimes rocky, friendship with secretive Marsh rings true. Murray is a master of telling gentle stories, exploring the small worries and victories of daily life, revealing magic in the mundane. Joey undertakes a heroic journey in Marsh and Me, while never straying far from school, home and hill. He takes great leaps to pursue and preserve his connection with Marsh, and slowly, in the face of constant doubts, finds his voice and the bravery to express himself. For ages 9+.
Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She is also the Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation.