BOOK BLOG: Jess Butterworth

When The Mountains Roared: a book with threads of grief, friendship and the importance of looking after our world.

img_1474-1(this was the proof cover and I just ADORE it!)

“When Ruby’s dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India, Ruby is devastated. Not only are they living in a run-down building in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home – not without her mum there.Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. Ruby vows to do all she can to protect them – if she can only overcome her fears…”

(finished cover, I absolutely love it!)

When The Mountains Roared explores the upheaval of life from comfortable and familiar, on a ship, over to a brand new and scary life on a brand new continent. Telling the story of Ruby, a brave young girl who is trying to cope at a tough time. She’s lost her mam, she’s lost her friends, she’s lost all familarity in life. Her dad is preoccupied. She’s in this brand new world, surrounded by new people, new problems and she can’t quite understand what’s going on.

Ruby is what’s so brilliant about MG characters being written lately: she’s not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right, she’s brave, gutsy and she’s curious. She asks questions. She tries, fails, but keeps trying. It’s so brilliant for kids to read characters like Ruby. Characters who are real. 

Moving to another country and dealing with a whole new set of rules and customs is a tough thing to go through. Ruby, who has lost her mum, has moved with her dad and her grandmother. They move to a hotel which is in need of more than a lick of paint. Her dad paints this as an adventure. An adventure it is, but it has seriously dark undertones. 

img_1476-1(I love love love these chapter pages! So much!)

This book deals so brilliantly with an issue lots of kids may never come across: poaching. Ruby is now in this incredible landscape surrounded by animals. She meets snakes, big cats and all sorts of exotic wildlife. The animals become her familiarity throughout the book. When she finds out that there’s poachers, her worst nightmare comes to light – her dad is somehow involved. I loved this exploration of quite a serious subject, at a level that doesn’t undermine the knowledge children have, isn’t preachy – it’s just right. The relationship Ruby has with the animals is honest and I properly felt for Ruby. 

There’s also a brilliant thread of dealing with Ruby’s grief too. It’s dealt with so delicately. Ruby isn’t ready to let go of her mam, her home, her memories. She’s afraid to make new memories in case she forgets her mam. There’s a level of worry and panic about Ruby that comes because of the loss of her mam. However, she’s brave and determined. It’s obvious that her family are a massive part of her story, so she keeps going.

I really loved this book. It was one that I sat down and just devoured. The descriptions are vivid and beautiful. The kids at school are loving it too. Pair this with Jess Butterworth’s first book Running on the Rooftops of the World, and you’ve got a winning combination. I’m excited to see what’s next, Jess is proving to be an author who writes complete winners!

Have you read When The Mountains Roared?
How do you think you’d cope being upheaved to India?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Thank you so much to publishers for sending me a proof copy! Let me know in the comments, or on twitter. I’d love to talk!

S x


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