The Final Year

Matt Goodfellow author Joe Todd Stanton illustrator


Publisher:Otter-Barry Books Ltd

Published:7th Sep '23


Available for immediate dispatch.

The Final Year cover

See that tall, skinny kid with the ball in his hand

sayin see ya later to his mate?

That’s me:

Nathan Wilder



10 years old

and a week away from the end of Year 5.


Life can be tough in your last year of primary school. Tests to take, preparing for the change to high school. Nate is ready for it all, knowing his best friend PS is at his side - they’ve been inseparable since Nursery.

But when they are put in two different classes and PS finds a new friend in Turner, the school bully, Nate's world turns upside-down. As he struggles to make sense of this and forge new friendships, he’s dealt another blow when his youngest brother, Dylan is rushed into hospital.

His new teacher, Mr Joshua, sees a spark inside of Nate that’s lit by his love of reading and writing and shows him how to use this to process what’s going on. But with so much working against him, and anger rising inside him, will this be enough?

A powerful and lyrical story about finding your place in the world and the people that matter within it.

"I am pleased to report it is EXCELLENT in every way. Told in verse, with illustrations, it focuses on a young boy going into school year 6. Think friendships, SAT’s, family life. This book will steal your heart, rearrange it and return it. Lovely references to David Almond. This is most definitely recommended to all age 8 upwards, all parents, all teachers. Simply go buy it!"

-- Fiona Sharp * Independent Book Reviews *

"A beautiful story of friendship, family, grief, falling apart and putting yourself back together again. Also a love letter to David Almond who I agree is one of the Greats of All Time."

* Manjeet Mann *

"Matt Goodfellow is a stunning poet, well known for his beautifully crafted, often poignant work, which is highly relatable. In ‘The Final Year’, he has brought all his skill with language to create a very powerful verse novel which is sensitive and incredibly relevant...

There are a million more things which I could say about this incredible book… but I just suggest people read it and get it into the hands of children who will see themselves and feel understood, recognised and valued. More books like this are needed."

* Through The Bookshelf *

"Well-written, authentic and very moving. And could really help to inspire children to write their own stories in their own voices.”

* David Almond *

"Written with compassion and sensitivity by Matt Goodfellow and blessed with Joe Todd-Stanton's distinctive illustrations, this eminently relatable coming-of-age verse novel revolves around Nate's troubled journey into the final year of primary school."

* Waterstones: The Children's Books You Need to Read in 2023: July - December *

 "Coupled with illustrations by Joe Todd Stanton – bringing Nate’s extended family & The Beats to life. There’s a certain Ghibli-esque style to its “No Face” tendril-like arms. Some really affecting work from both creators.” 

-- Rich Charlesworth via Twitter

"Loved it, read it in one! Putting it in our Back to School bundle for September!"

-- Heath Books via Twitter

"A stunning, emotionally charge verse-novel."

-- Chris Routh * @writeaboutbooks (Twitter) *

“A beautiful verse novel out with Otter Barry Books. Nate’s last year at primary school is turned upside-down by friends and family - it is heart-wrenching and heart-warming and I loved it.”

-- Maz Evans

"A powerful story told in verse about Nathan’s last year of primary school. Nathan has something special in him… poetry. A powerful and absorbing read."

* Inspire: Education Library Services *

"This tender and insightful poetry novel by Matt Goodfellow is a paean to young carers, books (especially by David Almond), good teachers and wings! A sure fire book of the year."

-- Gordon Askew

"If you give this book to someone, they’ll need a big hanky with it. Written by a children’s performance poet and former schoolteacher, this tearjerker is a novel in free verse about a working-class boy’s experience of Year Six.  ...With black-and-white illustrations that capture its moods, the book explores the hurt of shifting friendships — but the real whammy involves an ill child. It’s one to read aloud to leavers so they will never forget their final year."

-- Nicolette Jones * The Sunday Times - Children's Book of the Week *

"An extraordinary verse novel about the final year of primary school... Through his powerful verses, ex-primary school teacher Matt Goodfellow pays testament to the impact of a great teacher in supporting pupils through this time, as well as the power of words and writing to help manage big emotions. Joe Todd Stanton’s drawings add to the text, with the simple drawings softening the harshness of the story’s real-world themes.

...Believe the hype and the praise, this book is every bit as good as everyone is saying."

* Books for Topics - Books of the Month *

"I’m sure that this book is going to find a place in a lot of classrooms and that, just like Skellig, it will become a book that many people remember as ‘that book’ that turned them on to reading and the power of language."

* Just Imagine *

"The end of Year 5 through to the end of primary school is told through fragments of life in this unique and powerful verse story... Accessible, powerful, and highly relatable, Year 6 children will empathise with Nate and the challenges he faces at home, his struggles with bullying at school, and deciphering what really matters between the ages of 10 and 11. Highly recommended for reading with UKS2 classes, ‘The Final Year’ is 285 pages of verse story genius."

* School Reading List *

"Highly accessible, lyrical and life affirming, this is must-have novel that will authentically resonate with so many under-represented children and perfectly captures what this crucial transition period feels like. As such, it is a must-read for adults as well as the children who will devour it. It will also resonate with children who have made that transition and perhaps help them with their own feelings, as well as encouraging them to write for themselves."

-- Joy Court * LoveReading4Kids - Book of the Month *

"The Final Year is a book that needs to be read in one sitting in a quiet room where no one can you hear you sob. Beautiful verse novel about a boy heading into Year 6 Joe Todd Stanton's illustrations are perfect for Matt Goodfellow's words."

* Caroline Fielding *

"A profoundly moving verse novel for 9+ about change, adaptation, the power of words and the struggle to find your people."

-- Imogen Russell Williams * The Guardian *

"Goodfellow’s writing is outstanding and this book is beautifully designed and illustrated. Powerful, compelling and heartwarming, I can’t recommend it highly enough."

-- Sarah Webb * Irish Independent *

"This incredibly powerful novel, written entirely in free verse, really packs a punch."

* BookTrust: Book of the Day *

"It’s an important and powerful story to tell because it’s a celebration of a way of life which has too often in the media been stereotyped and maligned."

* Letterbox Library *

"Beautifully poetic and heart-stoppingly brilliant, your more emotionally mature and able Upper KS2 readers will be in for a treat if they try this unique story. Also, a must for David Almond fans!"

* Creative Learning Services *

@A powerful story about growing up and coping with loss – both at school and at home. Written in verse, it plays with words so cleverly, so beautifully, carrying all kinds of emotion and conflict between its lines that linger long after you’ve finished."

* Book Clubs in Schoo

  • Winner of Books For Topics - Best Classroom Read-aloud (Upper KS2) 2023
  • Short-listed for Spark! School Book Awards: Fiction For Readers aged 9+ 2023-24
  • Short-listed for Sheffield Children's Book Awards 2024
  • Short-listed for FCGB Children's Book Awards - Older Readers 2024
  • Short-listed for The Indie Book Awards 2024

ISBN: 9781915659040

Dimensions: unknown

Weight: unknown

288 pages