The Insiders

The Insiders
Cath Howe
Nosy Crow

This is another unmissable, wise, heartwarming story from Cath Howe; a tale of friendship, family and insecurity. It revolves around close friends Callie, Ted, Zara and Nico who are almost like family to one another, as well as Billy, with the action being narrated by Callie, Ted and Billy, three very different characters.
Callie’s mum is child-minder to her three friends until to cut back on expenses for his own mother, Ted declares he no longer needs a child-minder, little realising how much he’ll miss his pals. Then he’s humiliated during their class assembly by the very annoying Billy and becomes even more distant from the others, feeling and holding onto the pain of the torment in his mind long afterwards.

After school, an envious Ted now looks on from his hiding place next door, Callie finds a gap under the fence in her back garden leading through to the school playground and he watches as she and some of the others squeeze through to investigate, and see a light in the building. That light has been switched on by Billy whose mother is away for a few days holiday and who, having received a less than warm welcome from his father’s new family, in particular his bullying step-sister, has decided to camp out in school to await his mum’s return. When Callie discovers she can get into the school building and finds Billy hiding out, she is drawn into keeping his secret. Can she keep it until his mother is back and if not what will happen?

Ted, now overwhelmed by jealousy definitely makes matters worse by acting in a very unkind manner: with all these changes having taken place, friendships are being tested to their utmost limits.

It feels as though Cath Howe can get right inside the heads of her characters, so empathetic is her writing. As it says on the cover of this unputdownable book, “Sometimes keeping things inside is dangerous’; so many misunderstandings and misinterpretations could have been avoided or sorted out through talking.

Highly recommended for older primary readers either individually or as a class read. If the latter, there’s a wealth of creative potential offered by this superb book.

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