If you are expecting a book of rather sweet wildlife tales from your favourite TV personality then this book may not be for you. This is a brave and powerful book.
It’s brave because it is a self-portrait of a rather weird kid – not good with people and not a bundle of laughs, it seems. A kid who was fascinated by wildlife. This slightly weird kid grew up to be a slightly weird, and troubled, adult, and the honesty of the book is what makes it very powerful.
This book dips into Chris Packham’s childhood from the age of about five to about sixteen but at the end of each chapter there is a shorter account from his forties (the early 2000s) and these later accounts of conversations with… , well you read the book, are unnerving and dark.
There’s lots of Chris’s unhappy school times, unhappy home times, and happier times out with nature. There’s the discovery of punk. There’s the relationship with a Kestrel.
And, heavens, it is very well written. Blend ‘A Kestrel for a Knave‘ with ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning‘ and then dim the lights to make it darker and that’s where this book takes you. If you are old enough (I am) it will take you right back to the 1960s and 1970s.
I don’t want to tell you too much about the book, as you should read it yourself. I’ll just say again – brave and powerful. And very well written.
Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham is published by Ebury Press.