The Insiders


Ted loves his friendship with Callie and the fact she once called him a ‘nearly-brother’. It’s only the fact that money’s tight that he’s volunteered to go home alone after school each day. Yet he misses Callie’s warm, chaotic family.

It feels as though Ted is disappearing. Not only is he the smallest in his form, but he’s the quietest. What’s more, there’s little time or patience for his silence. In fact, ever since the incident at the school presentation, Ted’s been humiliated and almost obliterated. However he’s determined to avenge himself on Billy Feldon, when the time is right.

However, Ted and Callie, have no idea of Billy’s problem. Not only is his mother on holiday, but his father’s work means he’s had to leave town. It means that Billy’s left at his father’s girlfriend’s with the colicky baby and the angry stepsister. It means that Billy’s taken matters into his own hands, seeing a chance for staffroom food and even a library quiet space to hunker down in. What’s more, nobody needs to know, do they?

Yet what if there are concerns about the lights on in school from a neighbouring property? What if Callie and her friends are suspicious? Then again, what if Ted watches all that goes on in Callie’s property from his secret treetop hideout and puts two and two together….

The Insiders is a tightly wound, urgent and compassionate middle grade novel that we recognise and feel. Bookwagon recommends The Insiders, keenly to our readers.

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The Insiders

Cath Howe

(Nosy Crow)

Callie’s family is big and noisy, yet the household runs like clockwork. After school Ted returns with Callie. He loves the family and holds close and secret that Callie considers him ‘a nearly- brother’. However ‘money’s tight’ and Ted’s volunteered to stay home alone after school. It means he watches all the life of Callie’s home from the tree overlooking their house, secretly. Then again, Ted seems to be diminishing, more silent and small than ever. While it was once the four of them- him, Callie, Nico and Zara- somehow, he’s fading away.
Callie wonders if it’s to do with Billy Feldon. Although she finds him curious and amusing, she’s aware of how unkind his jokes toward Ted are. Then there was the orange juice incident…. It led to Ted being the target of so much humiliation that he was crushed and silenced. What’s more, Mr Dunlop shows little understanding of Ted, or anyone in the class for that matter. It’s like he’s a ‘troll’, as Billy might suggest under his breath.
However, Billy has problems too. While his Mum needs a break from her ICU nursing work, Billy’s staying at Dad’s new place, with his girlfriend and the baby with colic. What’s more, there’s K, who obviously hates him. Isn’t it possible that Billy could find another place to stay, somewhere secretive but safe, somewhere he knows well? Nobody would see him, would they? Nor work out where he’s hidden?
Cath Howe writes real life stories. That means we know and recognise her characters and their feelings, fears and situations. It means that her books are eminently engaging and readable and leave you feeling better and wiser. The Insiders is a superb story, such as others by this writer, like How to Be Me, most recently. We recommend The Insiders to our middle grade readers-  keenly!




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