The Snow Angel tells the story of a young girl with a love of the natural world and adventure who loses her parents to Ebola then finds herself rejected by her adopted family and plunged into an even more dangerous world.
Her plight is lightened by the arrival a new friend and the occasional appearance of a shimmering white fox providing much needed light in this serious, impactful story.
The swift removal of Makena’s parents by Ebola and the terrible way she discovers the news is genuinely heartbreaking. And the introduction of a homeless, albino child called Snow, and the explanation that her likely fate is to become dismembered and have her body parts sold for their magical properties is utterly devastating.
Lauren St John tackles these issues with sensitivity and without flinching from the hardship faced by children around the world. After all of which her suggestions on the final pages for children to help make a better world are very welcome.
There is a third act which sees Makena relocated to Scotland, where she is fostered by the woman who saved her from the Mathare slums and offers the chance of a new life. The contrast of Nairobi and the Highlands works brilliantly and provides a final, dramatic opportunity for adventure, hope and absolution.
The Snow Angel is also a beautifully produced book, with St John finding an ideal artistic foil in Catherine Hyde. Her illustrations, like the text, manage to bring these two worlds together perfectly.
The Snow Angel is published by Zephyr