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Wales Book of the Year shortlist review: Astronot yn yr Atig by Megan Angharad Hunter

11 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Astronot yn yr Atig by Megan Angharad Hunter is published by Y Lolfa

Astronot yn yr Atig by Megan Angharad Hunter has been shortlisted for the Bute Energy Children & Young People Award in this year’s Welsh language Wales Book of the Year Award.

Ant Evans

Having recently won the Tir na n-Og Welsh language prize (secondary category) at the Meifod Urdd National Eisteddfod, it was clear that Astronot yn yr Atig (Astronaut in the Attic) by Megan Angharad Hunter was going to be an example of quality story telling.

It might be a title aimed at those aged between 8 and 12, but although it’s been nearly a quarter of a century since this reviewer was at the upper end of this age bracket, he found it an enjoyable read, and is certain that this would have still been the case had the younger Ant Evans had access to it.

As novels involving astronauts and space travel go, the reader is very much along for the ride.

Our protagonist and narrator is Rosie Alaw, who begins by telling the reader a few facts about herself, such as having been named after her grandmother, and being 11 years old and coming to the end of her final year at primary school. But she’s adamant she does not want to go to Big School.


The reader can empathise with this as, with Rosie being autistic, she faces more than her fair share of challenges navigating life at primary school, so the fact she’d be concerned about the move from Year 6 to Year 7 is understandable.

For instance, when Rosie describes for the reader what the school canteen is like from her perspective, there are dark frantic scribbles across the page.

Imagery such as this is employed at various stages throughout the story as Rosie describes to the reader how things look, sound etc. from her point of view.

Away from her day to day challenges though, Rosie focuses on her main interest; being anything and everything to do with space.

This, as fate would have it, would prove to be very useful indeed. One day, as Rosie’s walking home from school through the woods, something Rosie is used to doing alone, she spots her older sister Carla with friends.

As nobody’s supposed to be on that path except for her, Rosie turns back and walks along a cycle path, which is very different, as there’s no waterfall or leaf litter and suchlike, which makes it very difficult for her.

However, it is along this path where Rosie sees something very unusual indeed. A spaceship which has crashed on the path. At this point, Rosie and the reader are introduced to Astronot (as she somehow knows Rosie’s name already, Rosie doesn’t want to look less knowledgeable, so decides not to ask her name) and Ffred, the talking robotic cat who reckons he knows everything.


After helping the time and space travelling duo hide their ship (which turns out to be much lighter than expected), Rosie then agrees that they can both hide in her room at home, located in the attic.

It is here where their plight is revealed. During a mission to tame Cysgodfilod (Shadowmonsters) Astronot and Ffred were attacked by four of them, who had each stolen parts of the spaceship leading to their crashing in the village of Groesloyw.

After quite a bit of persuasion, Rosie agrees to go with Ffred to various different worlds in order to find and tame (by means of a special serum) the Cysgodfilod.

Between Ffred’s ability to Jump (which is different to jumping with a lower case ‘j’ it’s revealed) to different worlds and Rosie’s knowledge of space and different planets, it initially seems things will be resolved in no time at all.

However, it becomes apparent a few planets later that things won’t be as easy as they first appeared.


During the course of her extraordinary journey, the reader roots for Rosie Alaw every step of the way. Not just during her journeys through time and space to help her new found friends, but also as she faces challenges closer to home.

Indeed, as Rosie is faced with bullying and aspects of friendship which confuse her (such as Mared, a girl in Year 5, acting in a friendly way around Rosie when they’re alone but on the school yard behaves as though they aren’t friends).

As Rosie tries to understand that which she doesn’t understand (such as why Ela, a friend, and her new friends like watching the boys play football) the reader very much gets the impression that Rosie makes more of an effort to understand her peers than they do to understand her.

My heart went out to Rosie at various points throughout the story.

Thanks to Rosie and her lists of facts, the reader gets to know Hunter’s characters in a flash and the plot moves along at the speed of light.

In this rollercoaster (or should that be spaceship?) ride of an adventure, Megan Angharad Hunter makes sure the reader blasts off with ease.

Astronot yn yr Atig by Megan Angharad Hunter is published by Y Lolfa. It is available from all good bookshops.

Vote for the Welsh language Wales Book of the Year 2024 People’s Choice Award. 

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