I was fortunate to be invited to meet Matt Goodfellow (thanks to Louise Corcoran from Bounce & Otter Barry Books) and attend a school event at Manchester Poetry Library this afternoon.
I read THE FINAL YEAR, written by Matt Goodfellow, and illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton, in one sitting last week and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since!
Matt is a natural performer (and former wannabe rock star!) passionate about using poetry to express what he’s experienced, what he’s seen others experience and some stuff he’s made up!
As a former primary school teacher Matt has first-hand experience of the difficulties some kids face at school, in fact some of the characters and events are loosely based on people he’s met or issues he’s dealt with.
In a packed-out lecture theatre where Matt himself used to study; he told the kids that year 6 can be a bit of a pressure cooker, but poetry can offer you something different to the rest of the education system.
He described poetry as rebel writing – thoughts, feelings, and ideas rather than fronted adverbials!
He tells the kids that the voice you’ve grown up with has power and nobody owns language, despite what the current educational system might tell us.
His message is that each and everyone of us has a voice regardless of whether you think something is ‘proper mint’ (one for the Mancs) or ‘reyt good’ (if you’re a Yorkshire lass like me).
THE FINAL YEAR is a powerful book which made me both tear-up and smile.
It follows Nate through his final year at primary school.
A year in which he must contend with being split up from his best friend since nursery and his younger brother being rushed to hospital in critical condition as well as all the normal year 6 stuff like SATS, transition days and school bullies. It perfectly illustrates Nate’s difficulties but also his resilience and the ways in which Nate tries to make sense of the world around him using poetry as an outlet.
THE FINAL YEAR is tinged with sadness but full of hope.
You can feel the love in the crafting of every page whether it’s describing the relationship between Nate and his brothers, Mr Joshua’s passion for teaching or the friendship between Nate and PS…and surely every Northern working-class family has an ‘auntie San’?!
Maybe it’s because I have a child in year 6 so can relate to some of the transition anxieties, maybe it’s because I’ve witnessed The Beast in action, maybe it’s because I’ve not always been ‘terribly middle-class’ or maybe it’s just because it’s a bloody brilliant book. The point is that everyone needs to read THE FINAL YEAR – it belongs in every school and public library in the country.
I received a free advance copy but have bought a copy for my son’s school library – if you’re able to, I’d urge you to do the same.
You can find THE FINAL YEAR at this link: