Book club questions

The Backwards

Some of the characters in The Night Sky doubt Mikey’s ability to see the Backwards. Do you think that Mikey’s ‘gift’ is real?

There were rumours that birds would not land in Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration camp, after the Second World War. Many people are drawn to places where wonderful miracles are reported to have happened, such as Lourdes in France, to find their peace and to heal. Do you think that places have memories – and that these memories can be felt?

Have you ever sensed anything like it yourself? Perhaps you walked into a room and felt a tension (‘you could cut the air like a knife’) and realised that an argument had just taken place there… or perhaps you visited a place which holds strong memories for you, and you can almost ‘see’ what happened there in your mind’s eye.

Mikey’s animals

Mikey finds his peace in the natural world and his best friend in the whole world is his dog, Timmer.  There are many animals and birds that appear in the book – Timmer, the bittern, the cows and the calves on the farm. Why do you think Mikey feels so at home with them? What role do you think that they each play in the story?

The scar

‘Little Mikey was sparky and quick quick quick but I have my scar so I can see the Backwards.’

Mikey has seen the world in a different way ever since the accident. How do you feel about the differences between Little Mikey and Mikey? Do you think that Mikey’s attitude to his scar changes over the course of the story? Do you think that the Backwards is any compensation for what has happened to him? If yes, how?

Good ‘uns and bad ‘uns

“Just because someone does something bad, it doesn’t mean they are all bad, Mikey.” Meg’s eyes are greener than green.

“Dad was a good ‘un but he did something bad?”

Meg’s face is smiley again. “Yes, that’s what I reckon.”

Mikey gets rather confused about good ‘uns and bad ‘uns. Do you think he gets it right by the end of the story? How does his perception of Dad and Ralph and Bill change? How many of the characters do you think are ‘good ‘uns’ who do something ‘bad’?

The Forwards

‘It’s no good, Timmer-dog. I pat his head. I don’t know who it was – I couldn’t see whether it was the Backwards-Dad or whether it was me when I am big.’

At the end of the story, Mikey sees two figures running along the beach. Is it the Backwards or it is the Forwards? Who do you think they are? What do you think the Forwards holds for the characters in the book?