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The Norwood School

Visiting author's powerful message.

A kind message from visiting author - Nicola Garrard

Fast-paced, tragic and tender, 29 Locks is an unflinching depiction of urban teen life.

Growing up in Hackney with his loving but troubled single mum, fifteen-year-old Donny's life has been shaped by poverty, crime and casual violence, including grooming by a local gang. When his mum is jailed for drugs offences, Donny is fostered outside London to the Hertfordshire countryside. Life in the rural Home Counties is a bit like landing on another planet but doing work experience on the Hertford Union Canal, Donny feels like he's finally found his purpose. 

When Donny's posh new friend Zoe is offered a dubious modelling audition in London, the pair decide to 'borrow' a canal barge and navigate the 29 locks down to Kings Cross. As they start out on their journey the future looks as unpromising as Zoe's fake audition. But as each lock is navigated and conquered, their adventures take on a new dimension, and life will never be the same again.


Dear Ms Imafidon, Mr Galea and Ms Bouchaib,

Thank you so much for inviting me to The Norwood School. I received a very warm welcome and more than one student offered to help with carrying books and showing the way around the school. I really enjoyed meeting your Year 7, 8 and 9s to talk about 29 Locks, publishing and the difficult issues in the book. I was very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of your students, and their responses to the creative writing tasks were engaged and original. A special thank you to Mr Galea and Ms Bouchaib for looking after me. It was clear to me that you have a very strong and supportive bond with your students and have inspired them to love reading and enjoy English. 

Very best wishes,