The Space We’re In


‘The Space We’re In‘ is symbolic of Frank’s life. He counts down the days until Max begins school. Meanwhile Frank is in his last year of Junior School, aware of the wonder of the Wilderness in which he plays with Jamie and Ahmed, and the power of a Year 6 jumper. His head fizzes with questions, from how to construct his Family Tree, to the possibility of ‘the code that connects the whole universe’.

Frank’s space is infinite, yet Max lives an enclosed life. He has a special plate, special box, special book, special glittery ball and does not like baths. Angelique works on his language through vocabulary pictures. Max does not like loud noises or green vegetables. Frank’s home life is determined by Max. He is conflicted by knowing what Max needs, and wishing he didn’t. He fights against the changes he sees in his parents as a result of Max, especially the wearied thinness of their mother.

‘The Space We’re In’ is an exceptional novel. I recommend it to all readers. We get inside Frank’s head and heart so that we ‘feel’ Frank. Laura Carlin enables us to realise Frank’s wonder through her illustrations, over which we watch and wonder.

What a special, wonderful book….



The Space We’re In

Katya Balen, illustrated by Laura Carlin

(Bloomsbury)– hardback

Frank counts down ‘The Space We’re In’ to when Max starts school. Frank can remember a time before Max, when ‘Mum painted the universe’ and ‘Dad _ wore a shirt that stayed clean all day;. Now Mum’s eyes are ‘swimmy and full and she gulps air like she’s drowning.’
Max has a special book, special pictures, a special squashy balls and a special box of things. He ‘eats with his hands’ from a ‘special plate‘ and ‘likes Quavers, mashed potato, plain biscuits and chips with no red sauce’. Frank thinks it’s unfair, but then he worries about Rhoda putting Max on the bus to school, and whether the school will know about Max.
Frank longs for a time that he doesn’t ‘stay in the howling jungle with this hurricane boy‘. Every part of Frank’s life is compromised by Max’s existence. He sees the weariness upon his Dad, and the way Max is diminishing his mother. Learning provides Frank with sustenance and wonder, from Mrs Havering’s family tree making, to neighbour Max’s explanations about spiral galaxies and the golden ratio proportions.
Throughout Katya Balen’s outstanding book. we hear Max’s inner voice and heartbeat. We watch his sketchbook of numbers and codes expand, through Laura Carlin’s instinctive illustration. Furthermore we understand his hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations. It is rare to step into another character in such a way; The Space We’re In is reminiscent of Lenny’s Book of Everything for its impact and meaning. Readers of all ages are recommended this stunning novel.



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Space We’re In”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…

We are open. Free delivery on book orders over £20.00 Dismiss