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The Storybarn Selects… From The Reader Bookshelf

Written by Lily Kehoe, 31st July 2023

Our exploration of this year's Reader Bookshelf is well underway and we've asked another member of our Children & Young People Team to talk about their favourite children's book from the collection.

This month, Reading Heroes and CYP Training Coordinator, Hope, shares her thoughts on The Crossing by Manjeet Mann.


“Natalie, look at the stars.

I will be looking too.

They are the same ones you see.

This is how we are all connected.

It seems silly for people to think

we are so different.

We are not.

We came from them.

We’re all built from the same dust.”

Shared Reading does not shy away from the tough things in life nor does Manjeet Mann’s The Crossing. It tells the story of Sammy and Natalie, who are both teenagers. Whilst they are living very different lives – Sammy is about to flee Eritrea, and Natalie lives in Dover – they are both experiencing and navigating loss. Natalie has recently lost her mum, while Sammy escapes from his home country after the murder of his father, a political activist.

Whilst Natalie and Sammy ‘weather their storms’, we see the parallel of their struggles, presented in such a beautiful way. Part constant stream of consciousness, part newspaper headlines, part dialogue – the words literally swim across the page, almost like they are floating amongst the seas that divide them.

We are very much part of Natalie and Sammy’s journey throughout, but these journeys are made up of other characters that form the beating heart of  The Crossing: “Tesfay is small... he just about comes up to my shoulder, with a scrawny frame to match. But Tesfay is mighty.” Ryan, Natalie’s brother, is marching the streets with a far-right gang, yet Natalie recalls when he bought her a rainbow cake, when she came out. And Anthony, a volunteer in Calais – “an older man with..a belly that hangs over his jeans..he pats me on the back and says, ‘How’s is going, mate?’” These characters reminded me of the humans we like to explore in Shared Reading - along with the tough things in life.

The Crossing is available to buy at The Reader Bookshop online and I would fully recommend The Crossing – have your tissues at the ready!

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