Thornhill by Pam SmyThornhill by Pam Smy


byPam SmyIllustratorPam Smy

Paper over Board | August 29, 2017

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Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines-Mary's through intimate diary entries and Ella's in bold, striking art-Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2017
A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids
A 2018 ALSC Notable Children's Book
A VOYA Top of the Shelf Pick

Pam Smy studied Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University, where she now lectures part-time. Pam has illustrated books by Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Julia Donaldson (Follow the Swallow) and Kathy Henderson (Hush, Baby, Hush!), among others. She lives in Cambridge.
Title:ThornhillFormat:Paper over BoardDimensions:544 pages, 8.56 × 6.16 × 1.56 inPublished:August 29, 2017Publisher:Roaring Brook PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:162672654X

ISBN - 13:9781626726543


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Page Turner! Thornhill is a dual timeline story - 1982 we meet Mary, a lonely orphan living in Thornhill Institute for Children, and 2017 we meet Ella the new girl in town who is living across the now decrepit and abandoned Thornhill Institute. One day, looking across from her window, Ella caught glimpses of a girl at the abandoned Thornhill building which eventually led her to wander off to that building. Mystery of Thornhill begins to unravel. Who is that girl? Is Ella able to solve the mystery? This spine-chilling but poignant story is brilliantly told through the pages of Mary's journal, and Ella story is illustrated through the haunting black & white pictures. Albeit the two different formats, the storytelling was mellifluous and was seamlessly weaved together in the end. Smy did an excellent job! I thoroughly enjoy this page-turner right from the start. There is definitely Gaiman's vibe in this story and if you like Coraline, this is a must read!
Date published: 2018-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pictures and words tell the story of two lonely girls Pam Smy’s lovely hybrid novel tells the story (in words) of Mary and (in pictures) Ella – two girls separated by twenty-five years. Ella and her father have moved into a house that looks out onto Thornhill Institute which was “established in the 1830s as an orphanage for girls” and sold in 1982 “after the tragic death of one of the last residents, Mary Baines.” For the last twenty-five years, the house has remained vacant, although plans have been made to develop the site. Through a series of diary entries, we meet Mary. She’s an odd, mostly silent girl who is virtually friendless. As Thornhill prepares to be fully de-commissioned, the few girls who remain are merely passing time, waiting for placement with a family. Mary’s chief tormenter has just returned from a situation which didn’t work out and Mary feels she must “lock myself away. Now that she’s back it is the only way I can keep myself safe.” Up in her attic bedroom, she spends her time making puppets. "I often wonder what my life would be like without my puppets. …I love that I am surrounded by the things I have made. They sit on shelves above my bed, on my bookcase, suspended from the ceiling, balanced on my windowsill – my puppets are like friends that sit and keep me company." In the present day, Ella spends much of her time alone, too. Her father, who clearly seems to love her, is away a lot. Her mother is presumably dead. Ella is curious about the house she can see from her bedroom window and the girl she sometimes glimpses in the overgrown garden behind the walls One day, she manages to creep into Thornhill’s garden and she discovers a puppet head. As the days go on, she continues to see the girl in the garden and to discover more puppet pieces. She becomes more curious about Thornhill’s history and who the girl might be. Smy makes great use of Mary’s diary entries to round out the story. Her story is particularly sad because there is no one in Mary’s life to take her side against the terrible bullying she endures. The adults in this story are either non-existent or ineffective. Her housemates are cruel and manipulative. Even though it’s obvious that her story isn’t going to end well, you can’t help but root for her. As for Ella, the monochromatic pictures tell her story as beautifully as Mary’s diary. It will be impossible not to race through the pages to find out what happens. Ultimately, Thornhill is a story of loneliness and friendship, and although there’s no happy ending, it’s a journey worth taking.
Date published: 2017-10-30

Editorial Reviews

"The book will certainly pull lovers of ghost stories, narrative illustration and creepy dolls into its dark pages, to revel in its scares and ambiguities."-The New York Times Book Review"Atmospheric and emotional in an understated way... Beautiful, moody, sad, and spooky-all at once."-Kirkus, starred review"All levels of readers-from reluctant readers to adults-will find themselves flying through these pages"-VOYA, starred review"This British import is a stunner"-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review"A chilling tale that highlights the importance of kindness and child advocacy while emphasizing the lasting damage wrought by abuse and neglect."-Publishers Weekly, starred review"The suspenseful ghost story and the highly visual format make for an undeniable page-turner, but text and illustrations alike reward careful attention with telling details. Gothic fiction serves as inspiration for both the book's style and the imaginations of its protagonists (check out the books and posters in Ella's bedroom), and Smy does the genre proud." -Horn Book"[An] intriguing ghost story with an ending that chills to the bone . . . An excellent selection for middle schoolers and reluctant readers." -School Library Journal"Pam Smy has created a wonderful piece of work in Thornhill. The drawings are full of atmosphere, the words are full of tension and emotion all the more powerful for being so sparingly revealed. . . . A story of friendship and courage and of the power of black-and-white images. I think it's terrific." -Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy