Cover image for The dam
The dam
The dam
First edition.
Publisher Info:
Somerville, MA : Candlewick Studio, an imprint of Candlewick Press, [2018]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 24 x 29 cm
''This is a true story. It was told to me by Mike and Kathryn Tickell. Kielder Water is the largest artificial lake in the UK. It is in North Northumberland, a wild an beautiful place, rich in folk music, story and legend. It was created in the late 70s and early 80s. A great dam was constructed across the Kielder Valley, a place of farms, a school, several homesteads and a stretch of the Border Counties Railway. The valley took two years to fill with water. Kielder is now a place for walking, fishing, boaring. It is part of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the fourth largest in the world.''-- David Almond, postscript.
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
E ALMO New or Popular Picture Book
E ALMO New or Popular Picture Book

On Order



A haunting, stunningly illustrated story of loss, hope, and the power of music from multi-award winners David Almond and Levi Pinfold.

Kielder Water is a wild and beautiful place, rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another -- for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond's lyrical narrative -- inspired by a true tale -- pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable, and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.

Author Notes

David Almond was born on May 15, 1951 in the United Kingdom. He writes novels for children and young adults including The Savage, Slog's Dad, My Name Is Mina, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, and The Tightrope Walkers. He has received numerous awards including the Carnegie Medal for Skellig, two Whitbread Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult books for Kit's Wilderness, the Smarties Prize and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for The Fire-Eaters, the 2015 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for A Song for Ella Grey, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Set in Northumberland, England, this is a quiet, understated tale about a boarded-up town before it's covered by flood water from a newly built dam. Almond tells of a father and daughter venturing out across a valley one last time in the dim light of dawn. Pinfold's pen, charcoal, and pastel scenes spread darkly across wide pages showing the broad valley, the dam's curving structure, and the two figures entering the first house and making music and dancing in the dark, empty rooms. Several pages group many small scenes. The father reminds the girl of his and her own past visits here for dances and parties and songs by famous musicians. "Now play. Play for all that are gone and for all that are to come." Finally, on the new lake front "The music rises../It continues./We hear it in the birds/and in the waves/and in the leaves/and in the grass." It's a haunting tale of loss ending in renewal as people come to the created lake for recreation. The subdued, somber tone of the text and pictures will elude many picture book readers. Almond's end note on the true story offers satisfying closure. VERDICT This hints at a ghostly tale that could make nice material for oral storytelling and shared reading with some older children. It might also be fun to use in music, natural science, and local history classes.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In lilting prose, Andersen Medalist Almond (Skellig) begins with a father who wakes his daughter at dawn: "Bring your fiddle," he tells her. The dam that will flood their valley in the north of England is almost done. The buildings are empty, their inhabitants rehoused. The father pulls the boarded door off a deserted stone cottage, and they enter. "Now play," he tells his daughter. "Play for all that are gone/ and for all that are still to come." Without condemning the dam (one day, the inhabitants will play by the lake it forms), Almond recounts the way one family memorializes a cherished musical landscape with the loveliest thing they know. Chilly, windswept spreads by Pinfold (Black Dog) keep to slate grays, yellow browns, and stark light. Vignettes in which a tiny boat is carried higher and higher, above the roof of a submerged house, accompany the valley's transformation ("The dam was sealed. The water rose. This disappeared..."). With riveting language and moody art, this true story will evoke awe and reverence of place for even very young readers. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

This takes the true story of the Kielder Dam in Northumberland and imbues it with music and a touch of mysticism. The dam was constructed in 1981 in a valley where there were farms, houses, a school. When the dam was finished, the valley was to be flooded. Almond's story begins as a father and daughter walk the valley one last time, remembering the pipers, singers, and dance parties that once filled the area with soaring sounds. The daughter has her violin, the father his voice, and together they enter abandoned homes to play and sing one last time, with birds, trees, and wisps of ghosts listening in. Pinfold's impressive artwork, sometimes full page, but often blocks of scenes covering spreads, serves as sturdy counterpoint to Almond's lyrical text. Particularly arresting are the 10 dark squares and rectangles that show the water covering all that's been before. Yet the promise of what comes next appears with the turn of a page, as people enjoy all the lake and its shore have to offer. A powerful piece of remembrance.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2018 Booklist