Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot


By Horatio Clare, illustrated by Jane Matthews | Published September 2015

Aubrey is a rambunctious boy who tries to run before he can walk and has crashed two cars before he is old enough to drive one. But when his father, Jim, falls under the horrendous spell of the Terrible Yoot, everything changes. With the help of the creatures of Rushing Wood Aubrey sets out to break the spell. Everyone says his task is impossible, but Aubrey will never give up, even if he must fight the unkillable spirit of despair – The Terrible Yoot – itself!

Funny and fearless, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot is a modern-day fable that mixes real family life with fantastical woodland creatures and a more than a touch of myth and mystery, to tackle the theme of depression head on, complemented by powerful line drawings by illustrator Jane Matthews.

Praise for the book

WINNER of the Branford Boase Award 2016

Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016

‘Here is writing and storytelling at its best. Here is a wondrous tale … that sweeps you along inside its magic, and its hope. At once bubbling with joy, and at the same time dealing with the great sadness that overcomes so many of us in our lives, the Terrible Yoot of the title. A daring book, beautifully conceived, and supremely well written. Horatio Clare has the voice of a great storyteller. As I said, a joy, a sheer joy!’ Michael Morpurgo

‘A treasure … rambunctious spirit, massive heart, and a poet’s eye. It’s also really funny.’ Frank Cottrell Boyce

‘This is a special and unusual book. It features some beautiful writing, and conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of the English countryside with such clarity that you’ll feel the damp ground beneath your feet, but it’s also a moving and thoughtful description of a young boy trying to help his father through depression. From his first breath Aubrey is a rambunctious child and his parents are quickly aware of his capacity to cause chaos. Unknown to them however, he has hidden talents – he can talk to animals. When his father, normally so cheerful, is weighed down with a terrible sadness, the wild animals help Aubrey find ways to help, and even advise him on how to tackle the cause itself – the Terrible Yoot. It’s a story full of tenderness and understanding.’ Lovereading4kids

‘Horatio Clare has written several lyrical and highly enjoyable travel books but this is his first foray into children’s literature and the result is an imaginative and thoughtful adventure. Faced with the confusing and painful fact of his father’s depression, young Aubrey sets off on a journey, at once real and dreamlike, natural and supernatural, to find and defeat the cause of his father’s illness. Aubrey enlists the help of talking animals who help him to understand and hope to defeat the terrible Yoot.

This is the first time I have read a book aimed at children which tackles a subject as complicated and problematic as depression. And it is tackled in a sensitive and imaginative way. Depression is not glossed over nor does Clare provide Aubrey with a magic cure: this is wonderfully refreshing. Yet the story is as lighthearted as it is serious.

The text is littered with footnotes, explaining difficult vocabulary and the ancient Greek gods, myths and animals who populate the tale, providing a gateway to understanding not only mental illness but also to classics and much more. Beautifully illustrated by Jane Matthews, both young and old will enjoy this book.’ We Love This Book

‘A jewel not to be missed is Horatio Clare’s debut children’s book Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot … about a rambunctious boy’s quest, helped by talking woodland animals, to break the spell of despair that has overwhelmed his father. This is a funny, big-hearted, nimble, original story, with a quality of fairy tale, informative footnotes, a sensitive way of dealing with the important subject of depression and engaging black-and-white illustrations by Jane Matthews.’ Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times 2015 children’s book of the year

‘A poetic and profound story … With captivating drawings by Jane Matthews, it’s a magical wintery adventure told with a unique mix of robust humour and imaginative insight. Highly recommended for children aged eight-plus.’ New Statesman‘s best children’s books of 2015

‘A heartening reminder that while the world may be puzzling and fraught is also full of beauty and magic.’ The Independent

‘This clever book mixes myth, fable and modern family life to create a vivid story that is not only full of magic but also looks sympathetically at complex issues such as depression… This is an enjoyable book that deals with important issues not often covered in writing for this age range.’ Books for Keeps Book of the Week

‘This is not only an enjoyable story that combines myth, fable and family life but it is also a subtle and empathetic look at depression and the impact it has, such as the inability to function and suicidal thoughts. It addresses this difficult topic in an age-appropriate way.’

As part of this, it is also creates an imaginative fantasy world where anthropomorphic animals help people. This, not only makes the subject of depression less threatening, but also conveys the possibility that even if it cannot be completely defeated it can be controlled.

The sensitive and engaging text is accompanied by lyrical illustrations that nicely contrast a realistic representation of the animals with an impressionistic representation of Aubrey’s family. Overall this is an enjoyable, intriguing and important book.’ Armadillo

‘This splendid piece of philosophical fantasy will appeal to a wide range of children, particularly those of a thoughtful nature… This remarkable novel is full of lyrical writing and sensible thinking, and when we are inside Jim’s head, as we are from time to time, we see clearly just how terrible depression can be. Nevertheless, Aubrey’s positive attitude and his innate trust in the animals’ activities and their philosophical ruminations make for an optimistic outcome. While the story is a fantasy, it is the people involved who enact the decisions and for whom the outcome is good.’ Gwales

1 review for Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot

  1. Nicaragua

    is an exceptional children’s story. It is warm-hearted, funny and brave, tackling the huge issue of depression with directness and vision.”

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