Thornhill by Pam Smy – a book that will appeal to struggling YA readers


Today I received my copy of this book – I am always looking for books that might appeal to readers who struggle with reading or with long texts. This book drew my attention as it is part graphic novel/part story.

There are two intertwined stories – that of Mary who lives in Thornhill Institute for Children in 1982. Her story is recorded in diary form. Mary’s story is interspersed with Ella’s story. Ella has moved into a house opposite the Thornhill Institute in 2017. Her story is told in black and white pictures.

The story is aimed at middle grade readers and younger teens. The mix of pictures and writing will appeal readers who are put off by blocks of text. Equally the diary entry format of Mary’s story means that, even on the pages with text, the text tends not to be in large blocks.

Whilst the pictures are simple, they create opportunity for discussion and interpretation, particularly given the 35 year difference between Mary and Ella’s story. As such, this is a good book for shared reading or shared bed time reading.

The use of black and white pictures is a reflection of the difficult themes in the book – bullying, loneliness, isolation and sadness.



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