Monday, 4 March 2013

Children's book review : Children of the Wild - Giles Milton

The historical note at the end of the book sets the scene : "In 1585, Queen Elizabeth I sent a small group of English men and women to settle in North America, then an unknown land on the other side of the world. We know something of their adventures from letters, diaries and drawings that have survived. Children of the Wild is drawn from these sources."

It's a fictionalised account that draws on real experiences and embellishes them, introducing us to four children who also made the voyage - Eliza, Maud, John and Francis. We see the arduous voyage through their eyes and share their sense of excitement, bewilderment and wonder when they finally arrive in this new, uncharted land that is to be their new home. As innocent, open-minded children, they are the first, and indeed only, settlers to connect with the natives, treating them as equals and trying to learn from each other.

In this New World gone mad, the children are horrified to see the adults on both sides betraying each other and going all out to destroy each other. The grown ups are the ones behaving like children and the youngsters end up assuming the role of grown-ups, trying to survive in a hostile environment, when they are left on their own. The concept of children trying to create a new sense of order and society reminded me of Lord of the Flies, but this group did a much better job of keeping things on track.

The plucky children manage to outwit the natives and overcome harsh conditions to survive so, as a reader, you really feel for them, breathing a sigh of relief when the reinforcements look set to appear on a new ship on the horizon at the end of the novel. But is the cavalry about to arrive or are they just going to be out of the frying pan and into the fire?

We've all seen the epic cowboys and Indians battles in the old-fashioned westerns and the romanticised tale of The First Thanksgiving with Squanto helping the first Pilgrim settlers, but I love the way that this book lies somewhere in the middle. It's a gripping, believable read that I loved, even as a grown-up.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New World Books (30 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954476751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954476755
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book, on order to write an honest review.

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1 comment:

  1. I have never read this book, sounds like something I would enjoy a lot.


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