Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"â€˜thereâ€™s bands of young thugs wandering all over China, trying to kick the foreigners out, burning and murdering. They call themselves Boxers. The Empress donâ€™t do anything to stop them â€“ as me, sheâ€™s pleased theyâ€™re at itâ€¦â€™"
Acting as a catalyst for rapid change in both the cultural make-up and also the maturation of Theo’s life, the Boxer rebellions wreak devastation upon the Christian Mission where Theo has grown up. After his father dies during the massacre, Theo is left orphaned and forms an alliance with Mrs Jones, a gun-toting, larger than life botanist, determined to have her name immortalised by finding a new plant that can be named after her.
The unlikely pairing of Mrs Jones and Theo sees scientific knowledge and religious belief brought into contrast as Mrs Jones undertakes her forays into the flora of the region and Theo remembers the various maxims and doctrines that his father led his life by. Equally there is a contrast between the faith-based spiritual and the more earthly empirical.
Amid the tumult and turmoil of political and religious insurrection, there are some exquisite moments of calm and reflection as Mrs Jones examines the native plants, Theo draws and their guide Lung writes poetry. In this extraordinary novel around self growth.