“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” Said Robert Lynd and silence is what Twitch has learnt is, indeed, in the core of birdwatching. Silence and patience to wait, observe and become one with your surroundings. It is always a joy when you find a great children’s book and M.G.Leonard’s latest novel Twitch will certainly bring a lot of joy to many a reader out there, including this reviewer.

In its core, Twitch is a crime-solving story. Twitch is our young protagonist who is an avid birdwatcher, defender of anyone and anything in need, and lover of nature. He is also not that popular in school, but this does not seem to faze him which is one of the many great qualities that make Twitch such a lovable character. Apart from his gentleness, we quickly realise that Twitch is genuinely kind, attentive and open-minded. He spends his days observing nature, feeding his birds, and helping his mother out in any way he can.

Twitch opens with a scene where we see our young protagonist defending a pigeon against the school bullies. We quickly learn about his passion and what is more it is the summer holidays, and the world is Twitch’s oyster. His plans involve training his pigeons, working on his forest hide and whether he wants to or not, solving a crime mystery happening in his forest! There is a murdering thief on the loose and it is up to Twitch and his newly-found friends to catch the convict, clear a person’s name and also train some heroic pigeons.

I can’t exactly place my finger on why children crime stories are so great and entertaining, but they simply are! Maybe it is the ingenuity of young minds or perhaps their determination and belief in righteousness, but they are truly special and so is the case with Twitch. Twitch uses his cleverness, his love for nature and his honesty to win people on his side and eventually helps out a family and solve the crime. During his investigation, he manages to befriend his bully, find new friends and discover new sides of his own personality. M.G.Leonard is truly great at discussing important topics in a simple and genuine manner. The way she portrayed bullying and belonging was truly great and it was refreshing to see the thinking and rationale of the bully for once; I also loved the fact that the bully was actually a really great kid who was just trying to fit in. Apart from the notion of belonging and giving people a chance, we also get to learn so much about birds through Twitch. The depiction of bird songs, the random facts that were mentioned throughout the book were fascinating and easy to digest. It is truly wonderful to see and hear our avian friends through the eyes and ears of a young protagonist such as Twitch.

It will not come as a surprise that I will definitely recommend you grab yourself a copy of Twitch by M.G. Leonard. It doesn’t matter how old you are, I am sure that you will discover a new friend in Twitch and his gang – both human and avian – and you will get to experience the world around you in a completely new way.

Twitch is out now, published by Walker Books